Cineteca Italiana is honoured to contribute to a prestigious event like Vedere la Scienza for the sixth year on end Compared to the past, this tenth edition focuses less on a monographic topic and more on the common theme of the scientist. We are confident that the value of the cinema-science association will be highlighted not just by the many documentaries but also by the afternoon and night-time screenings of films, whose ‘scientific’ content adds to their historical importance and their entertaining or evocative value.
Interesting contents and narrative clarity are enough to make a good scientific documentary. Fiction, however, is required to go beyond mere data and hint to something else, becoming a metaphor for a human condition or translating man’s most secret obsessions into images – but still departing from a scientific (or science-fiction) point such as the life of geniuses like Fermi or Giordano Bruno; different flavours of monsters or supermen, like the funny, ‘animated’ ones by Bozzetto or Manuli; or the excesses science and technology can come to when they no longer comply with moral rules.The great French director Jean Epstein once said: “Could it be a fortuitous oddness for a device with a highly rational structure to generate remarkably irrational results, to manifest iyself as a thought that escapes reason and contradicts it?”. In this statement we can see both his trust in machines (by which we obviously mean the camera in this case) and his awareness that cinema – as a ‘thinking machine’ different from the human brain that created it – needs to become a tool for an intuitive and emotional knowledge, decoupled from logic and rationality.
Born in 1897, two years after the ‘official’ invention of cinema, Epstein already wondered about the ‘specificity of the cinematic subject’ which, according to him, might actually lie in cinema’s ability to unveil the very essence of reality, including the part of it that is invisible to the human eye. And this immediately brings to mind some of the most significant topics found in this year’s films: the ‘freezing’ of reality by means of a beam invented by a scientist in one of René Clair’s most poetic and experimental movies; the mysterious reality of the ‘zone’ in Stalker, with its symbolic room of desires; the extreme reality in Caligari, which maybe only exists in a madman’s mind.