Film Topography and National Belonging: Hungarian Jewishness and the High Mountains

Gergely, Gabor (2022) Film Topography and National Belonging: Hungarian Jewishness and the High Mountains. In: The Routledge Companion to European Cinema. Routledge. ISBN 9780367461850

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Film Topography and National Belonging: Hungarian Jewishness and the High Mountains
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Abstract

This chapter makes the central claim that the presence of mountains in Hungarian cinema in the years of the Second World War is a specific filmic manifestation of the transformations of Hungary as a national and imagined space. That is to say, the sudden appearance of mountains in wartime Hungarian cinema was not without precedent and is not (remotely) a problem of genre or of a particular and limited form of transnational cultural exchange, as it is currently treated in Hungarian film scholarship (Vajdovich, 2013a; 2013b). The presence of mountains in films which celebrate their magnificence and immutability, their capacity to transform those who encounter them and imbue those born on them with a connection to nature, God and Hungarianness, was not an inorganic borrowing from a German culture distorted by Nazism, as this scholarship would have it. As I go on to explain, the mountains were parts of the national body seized as exchange for another, disavowed part: Jewish Hungarians. As such their presence in films is inextricably entangled with the accompanying shifts, from the presence of Jewish Hungarians on screen, to film representations of their longed-for absence in the form of propaganda films such as Őrségváltás/Changing of the Guard (Bánky, 1942), to the spectral presence of the destroyed Jewish Hungarian community in Holocaust dramas made since the war. The mountains we see in Hegyek lánya/Mountain Girl (Farkas, 1942), Emberek a havason/People on the Mountain (Szőts, 1942) and Kalotaszegi Madonna/Kalotaszeg Madonna (Rodriguez, 1943) are sites where racialized and gendered discourses of national identity play out. The mountains are objects that embody, metaphorically, the emblematic opposite of the disavowed Jewish Hungarian community.

Keywords:Mountains, Jewish Hungarians, Hungarian Cinema, Anti-Semitism, National Cinema
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:46349
Deposited On:09 Sep 2021 09:33

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