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The Otherness of Childhood – Cinema’s Difficult Relationship with the Child.

Biomedical Sciences Research Institute Computer Science Research Institute Environmental Sciences Research Institute Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute

Griffin, Patricia (2008) The Otherness of Childhood – Cinema’s Difficult Relationship with the Child. In: Otherness and the Arts - Global Conference on Interdisciplinary Approaches to Otherness and the Alterity in Literature, Film and Culture, University of Aarhus, Denmark. UNSPECIFIED. 4 pp. [Conference contribution]

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Abstract

Roland Barthes suggests that from his past it is his childhood which ‘fascinates’ him most; ‘…it is not the irreversible I discover in my childhood, it is the irreducible: everything which is still in me, by fits and starts; in the child, I read quite openly the dark underside of myself – boredom, vulnerability, disposition to despairs (in plural, fortunately), inward excitement, cut off (unfortunately) from all expression.’ (Barthes, 1977).

The child as Other is an adult construct - a fantasy, but also a reality in that she/he is a psychological reflection of the adult world – summoned up from memory, history, revisited and revised – a reflection of loss, of difference. Or, as Jacqueline Rose suggests: ‘…childhood is something in which we continue to be implicated and which is never simply left behind. Childhood persists…’ (Rose, 1992).

Cinema has a long history of re –presenting the image of the child/childhood as Other on the screen – multiple, contradictory, mythical images, often difficult to negotiate – contentious depictions of the innocent (tabula rasa), of the monstrous (the bodies or sexuality of the prepubescent female child becoming the site of Kristeva’s/Creed’s notions of the abject) - recurrent motifs, themes, patterns which filmmakers appear to recycle from film to film. 

This paper aims to explore the ways in which some cinema has attempted to engage the child/childhood as Other in a more equal discourse. Jane Campion, Victor Erice, and Abbas Kiarostami have all produced cinematic images which seem to draw the Otherness of the child out from the margins. Through their negotiations with form and content these filmmakers appear to meet the Other in a manner similar to the way in which some writers engage with l’écriture féminine.

Item Type:Conference contribution (Paper)
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment
Faculty of Art, Design and the Built Environment > Belfast School of Art
Research Institutes and Groups:Art and Design Research Institute
Art and Design Research Institute > The Art and Design of Living
ID Code:6097
Deposited By:Ms Patricia Griffin
Deposited On:07 Jan 2010 09:55
Last Modified:29 Apr 2013 12:10

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