Somewhere in Europe (1947): locating Hungary within a shifting geopolitical landscape

Gergely, Gabor (2012) Somewhere in Europe (1947): locating Hungary within a shifting geopolitical landscape. Studies in Eastern European Cinema, 3 (2). pp. 133-150. ISSN 2040-350X

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Abstract

Somewhere in Europe/Valahol Európában (Radványi, 1947) was one of the first films made in Hungary after 1945. Financed by the Hungarian Communist Party (MKP), it loudly proclaimed a broad European pertinence in an effort to privilege the universal narrative of childhoods disrupted by the war over narrowly national political concerns. The film’s story of a gang of half-starved children battling for survival in a bombed-out Central European landscape places it squarely within a transnational post-war film-making tradition. Similarities with both Italian neorealism and Soviet socialist realist cinema indicate a shared European experience of the war, but is also attributable to the international training and experience of the film’s personnel. The director Radványi had worked in the Italian industry, while the scriptwriter was the well-known film theorist Béla Balázs, who had worked in Weimar Germany and Soviet Russia. This article argues that in spite of its ostensible commitment to a communist and humanist ideology, the film gives an insight into the Hungarian national obsession with territorial integrity. Hungary’s participation in World War II on the side of the Axis, and its position as a defeated nation under Allied occupation, are seen to complicate the film text. This article contends that in spite its transnational flavour, the film’s focus on lost children wandering a borderless Europe suggests a preoccupation with the country’s uncertain position within a shifting geopolitical landscape. In turn, the film’s official reading by Nemeskürty shows an eagerness to accept the film’s representation of Hungary as a blameless victim of the war, and gives evidence of a need to insert a (false) break between the country’s wartime past as a member of the Axis, and the country’s 1968 present as a member of the Communist world order.

Keywords:National Cinema, Hungary, Somewhere in Europe, Géza Radványi, Béla Balázs
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
ID Code:22849
Deposited On:10 Apr 2016 16:44

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