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The idea of Europe in Contemporary European Cinema

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy

This thesis investigates the idea of Europe – especially as understood by the European Union (EU) – and how it is explored in contemporary European film. Raising polarised views, Europe is a key theme in contemporary society. At the same time, European cinema has become a particularly engaging object of study with the growing interest in the transnational. Combining an examination of both topics, this thesis is structured in two sections. The first part explores the notion of Europe, through an analysis of scholarly work, EU official documentation and interviews with policy-makers at the European Commission. I consider in particular the MEDIA programme, the EU’s major initiative in support of film. The second part of the thesis is devoted to a contextual and textual examination of a selected corpus of films supported by MEDIA, asking what idea of Europe these represent and construct. Chapters are centred on case studies grouped in two areas: history and memory on the one hand (mainly in heritage films) and spatial and social conceptions of today’s Europe on the other (primarily in realist dramas). Aiming to foster a sense of belonging, the EU’s idea of Europe relies on positive values and emotions, as well as on the notions of quality, prestige and artistic value, which constitute the basis for a new European community. The idea of Europe that emerges in contemporary European film is defined by a series of oppositions, between the national and the transnational, art and commerce, thought and emotion. My analysis reveals a complex and contradictory picture of Europe and European cinema, highlighting these concepts’ changing character in an increasingly globalised world.
Original languageEnglish
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Award date2012

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