Contemporary Lives on the Nature of Filmic Autobiographies
Laura Teresa Di Summa-Knoop
pages: 54-65 First published online: 09 November 2017 Version: 09 November 2017
The emphasis on autobiographical expression in contemporary society has undermined the theoretical and conceptual import of both the postmodern self and of the need for objective, documentary evidence. Analyzing autobiographical expression across the arts has, as a result, become increasingly complex. In particular, in this paper I will concentrate on the dramatic differences that can be found between literary and filmic autobiographies. Despite sharing a set of relevant similarities, these two forms of autobiographical expression are also significantly different in their means and in the very ways in which they express and problematize identity. Largely focusing on North American filmic autobiographies from the 1970s to recent and contemporary examples, my purpose is to isolate three main themes that not only characterize filmic autobiographies, but that also profoundly distinguish them from their literary counterpart. Filmic autobiographies, I propose, challenge the “confessional” approach adopted by literary autobiographies, they question the body and physical presence in their ability to combine visual and cinematic thinking, and, lastly, they challenge the modes in which filmmaking relates to subjectivity and identity.