Department of Literature and Cultural Studies, Transilvania University, Brașov; Babes Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca
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Department of Literature and Cultural Studies, Transilvania University, Brașov
Abstract: Scholars of Romanian cinema (Parvulescu & Turcuș 2021) explored the topic of nostalgia in post-socialism, but they stopped short of analyzing why directors such as Radu Jude refuse to draw on a melancholic view of the past. Similarly, film critics (Gorzo & Lazăr 2022a; Ferencz-Flatz 2017) analyzed the importance of the Jude’s attunement to contemporary cultural forms, but they did not engage with his reluctance to discuss positive aspects of Romanian state socialism. By putting two apparent opposite readings of Radu Jude’s films in conversation, this article investigates Jude’s philosophical technique which I conceptualize as “the construction of a dialectical image”. I draw on films such as I do not care if we go down in history as barbarians (2018), Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn (2021) and the short film The Potemkinists (2021) to distinguish between a dialectical and a nostalgic use of the socialist past. I concentrate on three main topics: Jude’s interest in capturing the materiality of the present, which he borrows from Siegfried Kracauer’s cinematic materialism; the differences between Walter Benjamin’s dialectics and Jude’s cinema; and the use of comedy in The Potemkinists. My article adds to previous work on Jude’s cinema (Parvulescu & Turcuș 2021; Gorzo & Lazăr 2022; Ferencz-Flatz 2018) a discussion about the uses of nostalgia in Romanian film, a subject that has not been discussed in relation to experimental and avantgarde productions.
Keywords: Radu Jude; Walter Benjamin; comedy; nostalgia; dialectics; socialism; film theory; Romanian films
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