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New Left Review 78, November-December 2012

michael cramer


Roberto Rossellini (1906–77) spent the last fourteen years of his career making what he called pedagogical films, principally for television. In his view, these works constituted a major break with existing cinema; they were a new form, neither art nor entertainment, and the director himself now wanted to be considered as an educator, not an artist. [1] Fereydoun Hoveyda and Eric Rohmer, ‘Nouvel entretien avec Roberto Rossellini’, Cahiers du cinéma, no. 145, 13 July 1963, in Rossellini, My Method: Writings and Interviews, ed. Adriano Aprà, New York 1995, p. 152. They included multi-part series on human historical development—the 5-hour The Iron Age (1964) and 12-hour Man’s Struggle for Survival (1967–69)—as well as portraits of innovators in the fields of politics—Cosimo de Medici, Louis xiv—and ideas: Socrates, Augustine, Descartes, Pascal. Rossellini’s account of Man’s Struggle for Survival, in a 1972 letter to the historian of American slavery, Peter Wood, gives a sense of the project’s ambitions:

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Michael Cramer, ‘Rossellini’s History Lessons’, NLR 78: £3

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