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Politics influences everyone’s lives

Politics influences everyone’s lives

When art meets science

Who: Sophie Vanhoonacker, professor of Administrative Governance

Film: La Meglio Gioventù (2003)

Target group: European Studies’ students

La Meglio Gioventù follows two brothers from Rome from the time when they do their secondary school final exams. “The film is about friendship, love and happiness. We see them grow up, marry and divorce. The importance of the family is foremost, despite minor friction,” says political scientist Sophie Vanhoonacker. “On the one hand, the film is really about this Italian family. On the other hand, it is a political film that deals with subjects such as terrorism, corruption and unemployment. Life on a micro level is beautifully interwoven with what is going on at a meso and macro level. That makes it a very rich film.”

Vanhoonacker thinks that in real life it is also important to realise that everyone’s life is influenced by politics. “We live in a time where a lot of people do not vote. But we do not live on individual islands. The outside world has an influence on your life. People have to make the effort to take a political stance. You don’t need to go into politics yourself, but you have to take responsibility and vote.”

The film also shows how people struggle with their ideals. “How far will you go to realise those ideals? One of the brothers is very idealistic during his time as a student. He meets an active left-wing woman and marries her. He strives for his ideals within the established order, in the clinic where he works as a psychiatrist. She takes the radical way and joins the Red Brigade (an Italian extreme left-wing terrorist organisation, ed.).” Vanhoonacker also sees her students wrestle with ethical matters. “Just imagine you work as a lobbyist in Brussels and you have to defend a tobacco manufacturer. Many of them have ideals, but can you abide by your ideals later on in your work?”

La Meglio Gioventù is a long film. It was originally meant as a four-part series and takes six hours from beginning to end. “Too long for one evening,” Vanhoonacker laughs. “I saw it a couple of years ago in the Lumière cinema in two parts.” And yet, it is not boring even for single minute. “I will always remember it. I saw part two again yesterday and it is still as fantastic.”

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