Paul Narboni

Culture Warrior

Ideology is inescapable from cinema. I’ve yet to encounter the situation in which Paul Narboni and Jean-Luc Comolli’s thesis from their essay “Cinema/Ideology/Criticism,” in which they assert “all cinema is political,” isn’t true. Movies are products of various industries, are situated within a  culture, and emerge with assumptions intact surrounding the values intrinsic to that culture, and thus movies are inevitably, in some way or another, products of ideology. How this ideology functions in cinema can be explicit or implicit, didactically deliberate or simply a rarely acknowledged and often expected trope, but ideology persists in cinema nonetheless. Whether it’s an argument made by an advocate documentarian in an independent production or the story of a superhero whose heroism venerates individual accomplishment in big studio tentpole filmmaking, ideology is articulated through movies. But while ideology is always present in cinema, individual films should never be reduced to ideology. I’m certainly not saying that cinema and ideology should be evaluated separately, or should not examined as mutually determining of one another, but we should acknowledge that when we examine cinema and ideology, we are in many ways examining two things which are not separate, but are different in many ways. The reason this particular topic has come of interest to me this week is, not surprisingly, because of the release and subsequent reactions to Paul Johansson’s adaptation of Ayn Rand’s controversial magnum opus Atlas Shrugged. I’m not interested in talking about the film nor necessarily the reaction to it specifically (in full […]

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