Beyond genre: reorienting Hungarian film scholarship

Gergely, Gabor (2017) Beyond genre: reorienting Hungarian film scholarship. In: BAFTSS Annual Conference, 19-20 April, 2017, University of Bristol.

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Genre analysis dominates Hungarian approaches to the country’s early sound cinema. Communist-era film scholar Nemeskürty dismissed the films as interesting only inasmuch as having been made (1974, 90). Subsequent scholars toed the Nemeskürty line and saw genre as the only aspect of pre-1945 Hungarian cinema worth discussing. Király and Balogh devoted 900 pages of a book to Hungarian genres in 1929-36 (2000). Others discussed the ‘semi-crime film’ (Lakatos, 2013), the Hungarian family melodrama (Benke, 2013), the Hungarian rural film (Vajdovich, 2013) and the Jewishness of Hungarian film comedies (Manchin 2012) in an attempt to demonstrate Hungarian cinema’s uniqueness in its locally inflected use of universal generic tropes.

This paper argues that Hungarian scholarship embraced Genre Studies because of its potential to position Hungary in the transnational context, permitting a dislocation from the problematic immediate context of production and an elision of locally specific institutional discourses – e.g. state practice of anti-Semitism - at play. Building on the work of Sándor (1992; 1997) and Záhonyi-Ábel (2013) this paper argues that Hungarian scholarship must move beyond genre to a thoroughly historically grounded analysis of film texts. Genre Studies’ centrality to Hungarian scholarship has allowed the persistence of Nemeskürty’s notion of a worthless output, and this paper argues for a break with that approach in the Hungarian context. This will allow the scholar to highlight Hungarian cinema’s fascinating complexity as a nominally audience-driven and profit-oriented industry subject to transnational flows, and as a state-controlled and propaganda-oriented film sector devoted to a racial nationalist ideology.

Keywords:Cinema, Hungary, Genre
Subjects:P Mass Communications and Documentation > P303 Film studies
Divisions:College of Arts > Lincoln School of Film & Media > Lincoln School of Film & Media (Film)
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ID Code:29924
Deposited On:06 Dec 2017 12:32

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