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Letizia Lusuardi
Assoziierte Doktorand_in

Back to the origins of cinema: encyclopaedias and museums of the image

This research aims to investigate the tendency of contemporary cinema to return  to primitive forms of exhibition, proper to devices such as dioramas, panoramas, natural history museums, and other pre-cinematic attractions.

In recent decades, the loss of historical memory and trust in the principles of experience and knowledge of the real, endowed to us by the postmodern tradition and accompanied by continuous changes in the practices of image production and consumption in the media landscape, has challenged the identity of cinema, questioning the relationship that the image has with the world and the viewer.

In a century projected into the  present, certain films seem animated by the need to distance themselves from the blind spot in which cinema has been cornered in order to rediscover  cinema’s origins.

Through the analysis of a series of films interested in exploring staging devices that preceded and accompanied the birth of cinema, in many ways defining its logics of exhibition, this investigation attempts to understand how a return to the past allows cinema to confront (and cross) the state of crisis and loss of the present.

For many contemporary film directors, this authentic archaeological excavation is an opportunity to reflect on the experience of the real that images have been able to offer. By reactivating links with devices, gestures, and forms of staging from the past, directors seek to recover the power and capacity to show what they fear cinema has lost, restoring in its images the principles of order and meaning which relate (again) to the real.


Fig. 1:
Wonderstruck (2017), Todd Haynes
Fig. 2:
Everything Will Be OK (2021), Rithy Panh
Fig. 3:
Nope (2022), Jordan Peele


Letizia Lusuardi is a PhD candidate in Visual and Media Studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle University – Paris 3 and at IULM University in Milan, under the direction of Antoine de Baecque and Luisella Farinotti, and is a sessional lecturer in Film Analysis and Aesthetics at the Sorbonne-Nouvelle Universiy – Paris 3.
Letizia, in 2019, was visiting researcher at the Department of History and Theory of Arts of École Normale Supérieure of Paris and, in 2023, directed a project in the field of digital humanities for creation of a website “Partition du Livre d’image de Jean-Luc Godard“,, where the score and identification of quotations of the film Le Livre d’image (2018) are published, with financial support from the DiRVED of the Sorbonne-Nouvelle Universiy and the TGIR Huma-Num of the CNRS.
Letizia Lusuardi is developing a dissertation on the interest of many contemporary films in the origins of cinema as an opportunity to interrogate its lost relationship with things and the world at a time when the ability to show is shifting to other fields and other media.