Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (922.57 kB)

Abderrahmane Sissako, Lars Von Trier, Michael Moore and the aesthetics of contemporary political cinema

Download (922.57 kB)
posted on 2022-03-28, 10:48 authored by Carolyn Strachan
This thesis explores new currents in political cinema in the films of Abderrahmane Sissako, Lars von Trier and Michael Moore. The three filmmakers selected adopt aesthetic strategies to interrogate and expand older parameters of political cinema to create new and divergent radical cinemas. All three filmmakers work in a politically engaged terrain that challenges the status quo. They contextualize current historic/economic conditions and unite around anxieties and reactions to neoliberalism. They cover different geographic locations and enter at different points along a cultural spectrum to collectively serve as an overall global barometer to shifts in expression of the sociopolitical and cinematic landscape. The work of African filmmaker, Abderrahmane Sissako counters Europeanparochialism and Eurocentrism. Lars von Trier digs deep into a critique of the western canon and the Enlightenment, with an aesthetic of what Deleuze calls a "new baroque". Michael Moore with carnivalesque techniques, and populist appeal, challenges American neoliberalism. The thesis will analyse the aesthetic choices of the three filmmakers who adopt previous dominant models of political cinema and combine them with emergent political aesthetics. It has been stated that it is impossible to return to the heady days of the revolutionary idealist cinemas of the Soviet Revolution or post-1968. However, this thesis argues that there is a blurred boundary between the more modernist strategies of the militant cinema of the 1920s and the 1970s and those after the postmodern turn. The filmmakers selected for analysis create a new political cinema in keeping with postmodernist fragmentation and humour. At the same time, they also borrow an anti-canonical aesthetic from previous waves of political filmmakers by adopting "political modernism" in its Marxist/Brechtian form, using reflexive realism, alienation effects, and counter cinema as strategies The result of these combinations has created new, exciting and divergent cinemas that expand the definitions of older forms of political modernist cinema.


Table of Contents

Chapter One. Introduction -- Chapter Two. Abderrahmane Sissako – the quiet and not so quiet revolutionary -- Chapter Three. Lars von Trier – a lordly racket/artist provocateur -- Chapter Four. Michael Moore - the American subversive -- Conclusion -- References.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 134-146

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Department, Centre or School

Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Iqbal Barkat


Copyright Carolyn Strachan 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (146 pages)

Former Identifiers