The Macksey Journal


In his 1992 interview with Richard B. Woodward, Cormac McCarthy remarked on the inescapable intertextuality of writing: “The ugly fact is, books are made out of books. The novel depends for its life on the novels that have been written.” Applying McCarthy’s dictum to film, this essay surveys the persistence of global cinematic forms from Italian neorealism in the 1940s to the modern-day superhero blockbuster. Among the essay’s concerns are questions of genre, audience, and industry: What constitutes a national cinematic form? How do films create appeal? Synthesizing the work of theorists and critics like Cesare Zavattini, Bertolt Brecht, and Marcia Landy, I conclude that no film emerges ex nihilo. From Roberto Rossellini to the Russo brothers, cinema depends “for its life” on preexisting forms and movements.