From the margins: Alice Rohrwacher’s liminal adolescents

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To date, adolescents have occupied prominent positions in all three of Alice Rohrwacher’s feature films – from her debut Corpo celeste (Heavenly Bodies) (2011a), to the critically acclaimed Le meraviglie (The Wonders) (2014) and, finally, to her latest work Lazzaro felice (Happy as Lazzaro) (2018). Being neither children nor adults, teenagers inhabit a biologically and ideologically ambiguous position within society, a precarious collocation that has often been referred to as ‘liminal’. In her films, Rohrwacher enhances her characters’ inherent liminality by (dis-)placing them, both physically and metaphorically, at the margins of society. However, it is their spatial and social exclusion and their position of subordination to power that allows them to identify alternative behaviours that oppose the dominant ideology within their social environments. Making use of the notions of marginality and liminality, this article explores the implications of the director’s employment of adolescent characters to critique Italian mainstream society.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-356
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Italian Cinema and Media Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • adolescence
  • Alice Rohrwacher
  • liminality
  • marginality
  • potentiality
  • spirituality
  • Victor Turner


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