Displacement, suffering and mourning: post-war landscapes in contemporary Polish cinema

Mroz, Matilda (2016) Displacement, suffering and mourning: post-war landscapes in contemporary Polish cinema. In: Brouwer, Sander (ed.) Contested Interpretations of the Past in Polish, Russian and Ukrainian Film: Screen as Battlefield. Studies in Slavic Literature and Politics (60). Brill. ISBN 9789004311725

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Cinematic engagements with the history and memory of the immediate post-war and Stalinist periods in Poland highlight a number of preoccupations that recur in cultural and political discourse in general: the deep imbrication between the physical environment and its inhabitants, the suffering of Polish citizens as a consequence of Soviet imperialism, and the symbolic valence of proper and improper funerary rites and practices. Such preoccupations are shared amongst films with very different generic indices, such as Róża (Rose, 2011) and Rewers (The Reverse, 2009), which this chapter analyses in depth. Both films engage with the power structures and authority of the Soviet imperial machine and the Polish Communist government, though they focus on different areas of Poland in different eras. Róża takes place at the peripheries of the newly-established Communist Poland, in a space and period of displacement and disjunction: the north-eastern area of Masuria in the immediate aftermath of WWII and Soviet “liberation” and the incipient enforcement of Communist authority in the region. Rewers, on the other hand, locates itself in the center of government authority, Warsaw, at a time when such authority had come to be well established under the auspices of Stalin and Polish Communist Party Leader Bolesław Bierut. Both Róża and Rewers explore how the large-scale historical movements that affected Poland, specifically those concerned with the reach of the Soviet empire and Communist power, were literally inscribed onto the (usually female) body in rape, torture, suffering and violence. Both films depict challenges to the Soviet regime’s desire to homogenise, to, that is, create a homogenous space – expelling political forces or ethnicities that threatened it – and a homogenous set of bodies – in the cult of the healthy body and productive worker. Such challenges are mounted through the representation of body, identity and nation as disparate, disjunctive, displaced, untameable, and fundamentally heterogeneous.

Item Type: Book Section
Keywords: Polish cinema, history, memory, state socialism
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DK History of Russia. Soviet Union. Former Soviet Republics > DK4010 History of Poland
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0045 Theory. Philosophy. Esthetics
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion pictures
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Depositing User: Matilda Mroz
Date Deposited: 27 Jun 2016 10:22
Last Modified: 27 Jun 2016 10:23
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/61712
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