CINEMA: Morgan Adamson’s Enduring Images brings the revolutionary cinema of the 1960s alive and reminds us of the necessity of battling the ruling representations.

Mikkel Bolt
Mikkel Bolt
Associate Professor at the Department of Arts and Cultural Studies, University of Copenhagen. He is a regular contributor to Modern Times Review.
Published date: April 17, 2019

Enduring Images: A Future History of New Left Cinema

Morgan Adamson

University of Minnesota Press, 2018

Revolutionary movements not only attack the ruling representations, but they also create their own images. We saw that in 2011 during the Arab revolts, where social media played a central role in the organisation and dissemination of the protests against the local-lumpen despotic regimes of Ben Ali, Mubarak, Assad, etc.

Of course, it was the presence of thousands of people in the streets, occupying, marching and protesting, fighting the police and the military, that caused the regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, but social media was an important tool in preparing the upheaval and mobilising people against the despots.

The book is a compelling analysis of a prior protest cycle where cinematic representations played a central role in the fight against the ruling order.

The square occupation movement in Southern Europe and the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US that soon took over the baton in 2011 were similarly characterised by a combination of bodily slowness in occupying squares and public places, and the fast micro-communications of new media. The protests were recorded live on camera in Cairo, Athens and New York in 2011. Cell phones and platforms such as Facebook enabled protesters to become the Victor Serge of a new era, documenting and broadcasting live the formation of new collective-protest movements outside the traditional mass media of state television and large TV networks.

 Cinema as a battleground

Morgan Adamson’s book Enduring Images: A Future History of New Left Cinema presents a compelling analysis of a prior protest cycle where cinematic representations played a central role in the fight against the ruling order. In the late 1960s cinema became a battleground for a whole generation of filmmakers who sought to put the medium to use in a revolutionary fight against imperialism and the spectacle.

Adamson frames her analysis as a contribution to the analysis of the New Left that emerged in the 1960s in opposition to the Stalinist version of communism with its iron laws of development and its privileging of the male industrial working class.

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