This essay analyzes Roberto Rossellini’s Europa ’51 (1952), a film Gilles Deleuze made famous for its way of “seeing convicts” in a range of social institutions, including the factory, the bourgeois family, and the psychiatric hospital. Recent accounts of Rossellini’s career have tended to emphasize his role in manufacturing narratives of postwar national innocence. By contrast, this essay reads Europa ’51 as offering a critique of the carceral state, though one that knows itself to be contained, disempowered, and confined. Mindful of the limits of this critique, the essay brings Rossellini’s film into conversation with ongoing debates about “reparative reading” and its alternatives. Noting that Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick encounters, or rather avoids, a “deinstitutionalized person on the street” in “Paranoid Reading and Reparative Reading,” this essay highlights the film’s very different understanding of institutionalization, which anticipates the demystifying and consistently anticarceral critique of official psychiatry that would emerge in the 1960s and 1970s. Whereas the fantasies sustaining Italian neorealism were reparative, the essay argues, Rossellini’s critical and self-critical turns in Europa ’51 take viewers beyond repair.

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