Virtually Processed Law - How Films Transfer Ideas of Justice

AutoreUlrich Mückenberger
Virtually Processed Law –
How Films Transfer Ideas of Justice
U M
1. In a breath-taking 2008 essay “Letteratura e diritto di lavoro agli albori
della società industrial” Bruno Veneziani studied how labour law was reected
in literature from (among many others) Miguel de Cervantes` Don Quijote till
Honoré de Balzac’s Papà Goriot or Émile Zola’s Germinal. He identied the
poetical protest against poverty and misery in the early days of the industrial
revolution and, later-on, the myth of freedom of contract: „la ‚grande nzione‘
della libertà nel diritto borghese e le smentite della letteratura“. Literature for
him is, at the same time, both testimony of factual working conditions of the
time when Capitalism emerged and took over hegemony in the western world,
and ideology-criticism of the existing laws and the class-biased court rulings try-
ing to hide the power relations inherent to the capitalist labour relation.
This is an approach where Bruno – despite discussing literature, i. e. arts – is
relatively near to his proper academic area: labour law. We equally know him,
however, far away from this academic area – when dealing with cinema and lm.
I know no professor of labour law (possibly apart from my friend Rainer Erd
who equally is both a profound cineaste and a professor labour law) who can
tell so many backgrounds and details of so many lms as Bruno Veneziani can.
And I have never known Bruno Veneziani talking in an equally enthusiastic and
lively manner as when talking about cinema. Readers who doubt that are recom-
mended to do the following test – let’s call it the „Veneziani-test“. Tell Bruno
two words: „cinema paradiso“. For the rest of the day, you will be listening to
him – not only explaining the double role of Giuseppe Tornatore, the roles of
Franco Cristaldi, Giovanna Romagnoli, Ennio and Andrea Morricone, Blasco
Giurate and Mario Morra, the strengths and weaknesses of the actors Philippe
Noiret, Jacques Perrin, Marco Leonardi and Salvatore Cascio. You will equally
have a look at the cticious small Sicilian village Giancaldo of the 1940s and the
particular relationship of their inhabitants to the Nuovo Cinema Paradiso, and
of course the love story with obstacles between Toto and Elena. And you will
learn how skilfully Tornatore built-in into the lm – via extracts from Renoir’s
Les Bas-Fonds, Fellini’s I Vitelloni, Chaplin‘s Knockout and Visconti’s La Terra
Trema – his own cinematic biography. Make the Veneziani-test – but mind that
many hours, and many glasses of wine, are required to really perform and evalu-
ate this test.

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