Wednesday, December 16, 2009

True Hollywood Story & the Memory of the World

Ben Hur, 1959

"In a millennium the old 'swords and sandals' epics will be seen as actual Roman films, dating from the Roman period, as true documentaries on antiquity...the J. Paul Getty Museum at Malibu, a pastiche from a villa in Pompeii, will be confused anachronistically with a villa from the third century BC...Disney already achieves the de facto realization of this timeless utopia, by producing all events, past or future on simultaneous screens, remorselessly mixing all the sequences as they would appear to a civilization other than our own. But this is already our civilization. It is already increasingly difficult for us to imagine the real...just as difficult as it once was, starting out from the real world to imagine the virtual one." -Jean Baurdillard, 1996 re-printed in Screened Out

Fall of the Roman Empire, 1964

Gomorra, 2008

Gomorroa is an Italian film directed by Matteo Garrone and winner of the 2008 Grand Prix de Cannes. The film was based on a novel by Roberto Saviano about real and fictionalized events of the Camorra, Italian organized crime. The film is set in the Bay of Naples, inside an actual government housing project that for the purposes of the film, is divided between two mob bosses. Both actors and actual residents appear in the film. Following the film's release, the author of the novel received death threats from the Camorra. The film invaded reality and reality responded. It also blurs the distinction between reality and fiction, contributing to both Italian history and myth.

Christopher Huber wrote a review of Gomorra stating, "With its interest in moving beyond the categories of novel or non-fiction, Saviano’s work has been identified as part of a heterogeneous strain of national literature, subsumed as the New Italian Epic. A term that certainly isn't disgraced by Gomorra, the film."

Living Italians define what is valuable among them and then shape both the actual culture and the mediated one. However, it is not what is valued but what is true that we appropriately claim as history. Media is transforming what we know as history and creating virtual memories.

Gladiator, 2000

In 1992, UNESCO began the Memory of the World project to prevent collective amnesia and to accurately archive cultural history. The ongoing project amasses images from library archives and private collections in hard copy and digital formats. Click here for more.

The 800 year old "Tabula Peutingeriana" is a primitive map of the world created by the Romans and archived by UNESCO

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