Vol. 8 No. 2 (2015): Warburghiana and Benjaminiana

L’origine, la ferita

Published November 23, 2015
  • Movie,
  • Memory,
  • Document
How to Cite
Fimiani, F. (2015). L’origine, la ferita. Aisthesis. Pratiche, Linguaggi E Saperi dell’estetico, 8(2), 99-115. https://doi.org/10.13128/Aisthesis-17568


Shutter Island (Paramount Pictures 2010) is a much-criticized and highly debated film. Scorsese, in fact, has been accused of distorting the facts and altering his historical sources. The depictions we see of the Holocaust are false, not based on visual documents, a mix of incompatible evidences and iconographies, an amalgam of irreconcilable informations and representations. The director has created a visual style and a sound design that vacillate between thriller and horror, drama and fantasy, while betraying the medial transparency of the reconstruction and the ethical responsibility of interpretation. The viewer sees and believes in the images of the concentration camp of Dachau which are, in reality, dialectical imaginings of another scene: in these images, constructed according to the clinical and critical vision of Scorsese as cinephile, the past and the repressed return in the present. In our present too. On the one hand, in fact, the viewer participates empathically in the mental images relived and suffered by the protagonist in his post-traumatic hallucinations; on the other hand, the viewer is prompted to recall the pictures quoted or paraphrased from the archives of the imagery of cinema and of the photojournalism of war–in which Pontecorvo, Resnais, Fuller, George Stevens and John Huston live side by side with the RKO horror films of Jacques Tourneur and Mark Robson. For Scorsese, the images of the violence of war and of the horror of extermination cannot be linked to an origin or past that have definitively been concluded. They are more than recorded pictures or concrete evidences: they are clues and symptoms. They come from a conflictual and endless descent of which cinema is the living and ambiguous memory; they are the open wounds of an original struggle between human and inhuman and of man–they still survive, here and now.


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