Nº5 2020 (2)

Facce della stessa medaglia- Sides of the same coin

Caterina Fassina (John Cabot University)

The Spanish philosopher and essayist Miguel de Unamuno divided history in historia, the history of the great warlords and politicians, and intrahistoria, the history of humble people. They are sides of the same coin; they belong to the same history, yet they grow parallel from each other. Tremendous upheavals happen in the historia, but they do not seem to affect the way of life of ordinary people. Intrahistoria is the vibration that constitutes the background of visible history that changes (“Intrahistoria” n.d.). According to Unamuno, intrahistoria contains the essence of national identity, while the official history develops independently and aseptically in the historia (Escobar Borrego, 2003).

This audiovisual essay applies Unamuno’s concept to the recent disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy. The editing underlines the persistent cacophony between the official history expressed in Italian media and the life of a family living in Milan, one of the most critical areas during Italy’s lockdown. Family traditions remain mostly unaffected in front of great disruptions, as Unamuno argues (Escobar Borrego, 2003). History unfolds both in the historia and in the intrahistoria. However, the Covid-19 tragedy does not change the family’s lifestyle as much as could be imagined.

According to the Spanish philosopher, people living in the intrahistoria possess a common ground. They all perform historical “common patterns of behavior,” which build the identity of a nation while preserving its traditions (Izurieta, 2003). Nonetheless, Covid-19 showed that intrahistoria carries inequalities and disparities among Italian people (Magnani, 2020). The juxtaposition of two quick shots of a man and a woman begging for money and the family playing Monopoly highlights the dichotomy between them and other families. Indeed, the family in this video-essay cannot be considered a universal norm. They do not need to worry about money or food shortages. Their privilege allows them to keep their routine unvaried.

To some extent, families without economic struggles could leave the pandemic, the historia, outside of their household. The historia constitutes the background of the family life, except for the conversation the grandmother has with her daughter-in-law. She talks about a friend who could not see her mother as she was in a retirement home. Covid-19 makes itself closer to the family as long as it affects another member of the intrahistoria that has the same socio-economic conditions.

Furthermore, the video essay emphasizes the progressive hiatus between people living in the intrahistoria and the historia. The audience can easily recognize the dichotomy between the official history told by media and crafted by political interests and the history lived by the family. Italian populist media show the anger towards Europe, along with the political propaganda exploiting Catholic traditions to attract an outraged electorate. The guidelines for the reopening of public spaces divide politicians; they even express their disappointment with the government through a disrespectful language to the victims of Covid-19. This video essay does not intend to solve the question about the truthfulness of Italian media, though. Instead, it aims to promote a reflection about the representations of reality that media craft according to the political agenda. The audience is left free of drawing their personal conclusions.

In a nutshell, this audiovisual essay begins with an observation: historia and intrahistoria are sides of the same coin. From this consideration, the narration and the editing develop two questions that unfold at the same time. The first one challenges the assumptions about the existence of common ground among Italians living in the intrahistoria. On the other hand, this piece queries our awareness of the narration media and politicians promote to depict a whole country.



  • Escobar Borrego, Francisco Javier (2003) “El concepto de ‘intrahistoria’ como ‘praxis’ periodística en ‘Andanzas y visiones españolas’ de Miguel de Unamuno”. Anuario de estudios filológicos 26, 103–116.
  • “Intrahistoria.” Diccionario de la lengua española- Edición del Tricentenario. dle.rae.es,/intrahistoria.
  • Izurieta, Ibon (2003) “Unamuno’s ‘En torno al casticismo’ as Nation-Making.” Hispanic Journal 24 (1/2), 91–101.
  • Magnani, Alberto (2020, April 10) “Così il coronavirus fa esplodere le disuguaglianze sociali in Italia”. Il Sole 24+. 24plus.ilsole24ore.com/art/cosi-coronavirus-fa-esplodere-disuguaglianze-sociali-italia-ADsrL2I.

How to cite this article: Fassina, C. (2020) Facce della stessa medaglia / Caras de la misma moneda. Tecmerin. Revista de Ensayos Audiovisuales, 5(2). ISSN: ISSN: 2659-4269

Other videoessays in this issue:

Moving through Geometric Compositions: The Spectator’s Experience of Film Space
Farshad Zahedi & Francisco J. Jiménez Alcarria (UC3M)

Adrià Guardiola Rius (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)

Ways of Coming Home. Affective Cartographies, Memory and Visuality
Tayri Paz García (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) y Jochen Vivallo (Universidad Carlos III de Madrid)