Paolo Virno is one of the most influential contemporary philosophers in Italy. The film “Common Places” starts off as a project on Virno’s philosophical views. However, once his political past comes into play, this strictly philosophical approach gives place to a biographical digression. At the end of the ’70s, Virno was arrested in a large-scale “anti-terrorist action,” and spent almost 4 years in prison. His history and views on this epoch provide an insight into one of the major subjects of the recent History of Italy – – and turn the film “Common Places” into a quest for traces and clues.
Paolo Virno’s theories regarding post-Fordism and its forms of life have made his books published worldwide. In “Common Places”, Virno explains his views on some of his main topics of interest: virtuosity, General Intellect, common places, human nature, language, negation etc. As we move from one topic to the next, we see Virno in is daily life: Smoking cigarettes, giving lectures at the University of Roma Tre, smoking cigarettes, playing with his baby son, smoking cigarettes. At the same time, the directors engage in a research for Virno’s past. They browse through old newspapers in the National Library, and reconstruct the story of Virno’s imprisonment in the late ’70s. Back then, Virno worked as an editor of “Metropoli”, a magazine that all allegedly was connected to the Red Brigades. As the directors try to direct the film towards Virno’s political past, the film turns into a debate about Virno’s biography and the subjectivity of biographical film making in general.
“Common Places” is the first of a series of three films on contemporary Italian thinkers. The second film, featuring Franco Bifo Berardi is already in production and is to be released soon.