Bearded bomb-throwers, self-indulgent nihilists, dangerous subversives—these characteristic clichés of anarchists in the popular imagination are often reproduced in the cinema. In Film and the Anarchist Imagination, the first comprehensive survey of anarchism in film, Richard Porton deconstructs such stereotypes while offering an authoritative account of films featuring anarchist characters and motifs.
From the early cinema of Griffith and René Clair, to the work of Godard, Lina Wertmüller, Lizzie Borden and Ken Loach, Porton analyzes portrayals of anarchism in film, presenting commentaries and critiques of such classics as Zéro de Conduite, Tout Va Bien, and Love and Anarchy. In addition, he provides an excellent guide to the complex traditions of anarchist thought, from Bakunin and Kropotkin to Emma Goldman and Murray Bookchin, disclosing a rich historical legacy that encompasses the Paris Commune, the Haymarket martyrs, the anarcho-syndicalists of the Spanish Civil War, as well as more familiar contemporary avatars like the Situationists and the enragés of May 1968.
“Richard Porton’s erudite and eloquent history of anarchist cinema breaks new ground in both film and cultural studies; there is nothing comparable to it in English.”
“A pathbreaking work. Alive with intelligence and perception, it is both elegantly conceived and written.”
“This is a major addition to the scholarship around radical film history, and if you have anything more than a passing interest in film or anarchism, I strongly suggest you pick it up.”
“Porton traces the anarchist Zeitgeist, reconnects and rekindles those ideas and images of anarchist fervor that have been so distressingly dismantled and suppressed in our time. An exhilarating act of recovery.”
“Porton’s astute and engaging study provides a needed corrective to the ‘laughably unsubtle’ movies that recycle stereotypes and half-truths.”