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Spaces of ideology in South Slavic films

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The article opens with a brief overview of the political circumstances that helped or hindered the development of the film industry in the former Yugoslavia and its successor states, in particular Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. Several critical points in Yugoslav cinema in the pre-1991 period are outlined, underscoring a bifurcation of official and subversive films. A similar tendency is then observed in the post-1991 period, when nationalistic policies in the new states resulted in government- sponsored films and ‘irreverent’ films that undermined official discourse. This backdrop serves for further investigation into the ways in which external political factors affected the narrative morphology of regional films in the socialist and postsocialist periods. It is shown that the notion of movement-through-space is frequently exploited as a cohesive element on the narrative level, only to yield opposite ideological constructs: the narratives of Partisan films tend to be structured around the concept of appropriation of space as an ultimate metaphor for overcoming obstacles on the road to communism, while ‘travelling and not arriving’ appears as a recurring motif in war films from the post-1990 period. In discussing ten recent films, I show how spatial entropy conveys a sense of political deadlock and collapse of space not only as a real category but as a memory of a country that no longer exists.
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Keywords: Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian cinema; Partisan films; appropriation of space; heterotopia; spatial entropy; war genre

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Harvard University

Publication date: July 26, 2011

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