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Dreaming, drifting, dying: The narrative inertia in Wojciech Has’s Lalka/The Doll (1968)

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This article examines various artistic strategies used by Wojciech Has in his adaptation of Bolesław Prus’s novel The Doll (1889) in order to establish a link between the formal aspects of the film and its narrative content, as these two work together towards a more general cultural diagnosis concerning modernity. The author analyses camera movement, mise-en-scène, editing, spatial and temporal structures, demonstrating how these devices block the process of narrative development. She argues that the visual and narrative strategies employed by Has proclaim a distrust towards any form of progress. Finally, she claims that Has’s deep and profound distrust of progressive change separates him from the dominant paradigm of Polish post-war cinema preoccupied with History conceived as a linear goal-oriented sequence of events.

Keywords: Polish cinema; Wojciech Jerzy Has; adaptation; narrative inertia; space; surrealism; tableau vivant; theatricality

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/seec.4.1.63_1

Affiliations: University of Alberta

Publication date: April 1, 2013

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  • In the years since the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the political changes of 1989/90, there has been a growing interest in the cinemas of the former countries of the Eastern Bloc. There is a growing community of scholars, including a number of students working for post-graduate qualifications, who are engaged with film but also media, culture, and art (of one form or another) from the region. This is not a community existing on the margins of academia but one which is nationally and internationally recognised for the centrality and high quality of its scholarship. Studies in Eastern European Cinema provides a dynamic, innovative, regular, specialised peer-reviewed academic outlet and discursive focus for the world-wide community of Eastern European film scholars, edited by a board of experienced, internationally recognised experts in the field.
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