(META)-Theatrical Old Age in Two Contemporary European Films
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Similar to literature or the performing arts, the cinema and, in particular, the narrative film constitutes a useful artistic and textual source which can throw light on the construction of old age and its (mis)representations. As noted by Sally Chivers in The Silvering Screen, the permanence of ageing boomers in commercial cinema has started “changing the ‘face’ of Hollywood.” (2011: xv) Yet, misconceptions of old age or superficial portraits of the process of ageing continue to appear in contemporary manifestations of popular culture, including mainstream films. Therefore, it is important to pay attention to those cinematic studies of old age which highlight the diverse realities of ageing and which, by doing so, especially demystify ageist conceptions. Two contemporary examples of European cinema, Manoel de Oliveira’s I’m Going Home (2001) and Roger Michell’s Venus (2006), can be regarded as filmic creations that may contribute to the discourse of cultural gerontology −both through the complex portrayal of their male ageing figures, and through their common use of the theatre as a metaphor whereby the process of ageing itself can be both understood and deconstructed. At the same time, these Franco-Portuguese and English productions reproduce the two primary themes which Robert E. Yahnke observed in the depiction of aging in films one decade ago, namely, regeneration and intergeneration, (1992: 293) both of which continue to serve an anti-ageist agenda.