Practices of Mediation and Phenomena of Contamination in the Films of M. Antonioni and A. Egoyan
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
By bringing M. Antonioni and A. Egoyan into dialogue with one another, this thesis sheds light on a significant yet neglected aspect of their cinematic visions: the interactions of practices of technological mediation with phenomena of contamination and dissolution of boundaries. My work is inspired by the recovery of archival material that demonstrates the two auteurs’ intention to collaborate on a filmmaking project, entitled Just to Be Together, between 1997 and 1998. This unfinished film invites us to look retrospectively at Antonioni’s and Egoyan’s oeuvres in a way that transcends established frameworks of analysis based on national, art-house, and diasporic/exilic paradigms. Focusing on what came before this suspended artistic collaboration, the present study proceeds through a series of paired readings of films, framed within a theoretical context of transnational cinema. The final section includes an expanded, intertextual discussion of the major findings of my research in relation to the screenplay of Just to Be Together. Whilst recognising the directors’ different cultural and historical backgrounds, I argue that there exist strong thematic and stylistic affinities between Antonioni’s ‘art-house’ cinema and Egoyan’s ‘accented’ aesthetics. The corpus I have chosen to concentrate on reflects my view that such similarities are most noticeable in Antonioni’s first colour films and Egoyan’s early features. In particular, the following films are examined in pairs: Il deserto rosso (1964) / The Adjuster (1991) (Chapter One, ‘Reconfiguring Modernity’); Blow-up (1966) / Speaking Parts (1989) (Chapter Two, ‘Capturing What Vanishes’); The Passenger (1974) / Next of Kin (1984) (Chapter Three, ‘Discarding the Unwanted Skin’). By using different conceptual frameworks developed by scholars such as Zygmunt Bauman, Julia Kristeva, Rosi Braidotti, Roland Barthes, and Richard Dyer, this study explores themes of fluidity, ambivalence, renegotiation of bodily boundaries, media technologies, pollution, and identity. It aims to engage with recent critical efforts to rethink Antonioni’s aesthetics from the perspective of contemporary theoretical frames, whilst opening up a discursive space from which to challenge the validity of diasporic and accented models for Egoyan’s early features.
PhD in Italian