University of Cambridge > > Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term > ‘Triumph of the Real: From The Communist Manifesto to Jason Bourne’

‘Triumph of the Real: From The Communist Manifesto to Jason Bourne’

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The release of Paul Greengrass’s The Bourne Supremacy in 2004 was, in one way, the result of an odyssey through visual culture that started with The Communist Manifesto in 1848.

So how do we get from the nineteenth century’s most famous (and picture-free) call for socialist revolution to a Hollywood blockbuster? It wasn’t to do with anything Marx and Engels wrote. Rather, it was what many assumed to be in the manifesto but actually wasn’t – and it was an absence only addressed half a century later, in the prelude to the Russian Revolution.

The wider answer has to do with another kind of revolution – one that manifested itself initially on cinema screens, rather than in the supposed internal contradictions of capitalist economies. In the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, cinematic realism was the most significant revolution in visual culture since the late Renaissance. Not only did it carry along the Neo-Realists in Italy, La Nouvelle Vague and and cinéma vérité in France, Direct Cinema and urban realism in the US, and Free Cinema and social realism in Britain; it also shaped the visual language of television, in a profound way, in fiction and non-fiction.

But there is a dark side to this revolution – one that has filmmakers in numerous national (and usually oppositional) cinemas struggling to break free.

This talk is part of the Wolfson College Lunchtime Seminar Series - Wednesdays of Full Term series.

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