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The looking machineEssays on cinema, anthropology and documentary filmmaking$
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David MacDougall

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781526134097

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526134097.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MANCHESTER SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.manchester.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Manchester University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MSO for personal use.date: 28 January 2022

Environments of childhood

Environments of childhood

(p.39) 4 Environments of childhood
The looking machine

David MacDougall

Manchester University Press

Taking the problem of filming children’s lives as a focus, this chapter explores how environments in cinema both condition and reflect the inner life of the film subject, citing films by Rossellini, De Sica, Ozu, Antonioni, and several documentary filmmakers. For the author, the experiences of filming children at a school and at a juvenile detention centre in India raised important questions about the relation of physical and social environments to an individual’s consciousness, and how this could be conveyed by cinematic means. One solution was to focus specifically on the concrete objects and surroundings that shaped the children’s perceptual world. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the difficulties of accurately portraying children’s lives in modern society, caused by parental fears and the increasing idealisation of childhood innocence. All these factors make accurately portraying children’s lives in documentary films more difficult, and may even increase the risks of doing so.

Keywords:   filmmaking, childhood, consciousness, environment, India

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