“On peut mourir tranquil!” Functionalizing Alzheimer’s Disease from “Wellkåmm to Verona” (2006) to “La Finale” (2018)
Popular representations of dementia seemingly create an overall narrative of loss; the loss of productivity, economic resources, social power, autonomy, and, most of all, memory and personhood. Though the preoccupation with dementia continues to proliferate in various media, visual representations of the disease have remained relatively scarce and conventional. For the most part such representations focus on female patients and are characterized by somber undertones. Based on a representative selection of contemporary European films, this article inquires whether there are other ways of presenting and dealing with dementia and asks how comedies which feature older men afflicted with Alzheimer’s manage to generate laughter, to what extent these films use mechanisms of denigration, exclusion and stereotyping in regard to the patients, the family, and the disease, and what kind of compromise they find between comic aspects and the dire physical, psychological and social realities of dementia. Further points of analysis are the possible infantilizing and stigmatizing of Alzheimer’s patients, the reinforcement of stereotypical notions of later life and ageing, and the ‘ideological’ subtexts the comedies propagate in relation to traditional family values and hierarchies.
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