Ivone Margulies on Cinema’s Existential Arena

Still from Carlo Velo's 'Torero'

Cinema’s Existential Arena:
, Sophia Loren, Her Own Story and the Celebrity Reenactment Film.

This talk examines two celebrity biopics: Sophia Loren, Her Own Story, where Loren plays herself and her mother, and Carlo Velo’s Torero (1956), a film that retraces Luis Procuna the Mexican matador, intercutting newsreel footage of the actual Procuna (as well as a host of other bullfighters) with reconstructed scenes of his awaited return to the arena.

The obsession with mortality in the Mexican film as well as the uncanny casting of Sophia in a double role signal the anxious relation to finitude foregrounded in self-acted star biopics and dramatized in these films’ proliferating doubles and textural hybridity. These stars presences, each in its way temporally out of joint, are my entry to discuss the existential and ontological dimensions of reenactment. Loren’s disturbance of the biopic’s linearity and Torero’s imbalanced composite of newsreel and reenactment, of the biopic and the essay film, announce the interest of reenactment as an elastic form of representation with the capacity to problematize both cinema’s temporal strictures and forms of life representation.

Ivone Margulies (NYU Cinema Studies PhD ’93) is the author of Nothing Happens: Chantal Akerman’s Hyperrealist Everyday and the editor of Rites of Realism: Essays on Corporeal Cinema. She has published on Andre Bazin, Eric Rohmer, Jean Rouch as well as on questions of realism and theatricality. Margulies teaches film studies at the Film and Media Department in Hunter College, and at the Graduate Center in the Film Studies Certificate Program.

This event is free and open to the public.