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Radical Communication: Politics after 1968 in/and Polish Cinema


Radical Communication: Politics after 1968 in/and Polish Cinema

Leppla, Dominic (2019) Radical Communication: Politics after 1968 in/and Polish Cinema. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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The anniversary of 1968 provides an opportunity to revisit its unique intersection of revolutionary politics and collective creativity, in which cinema was caught up as never before—in the production of a certain political affect, global in its scope. This dissertation pursues what followed in its wake, using the case of People’s Poland, which saw an unprecedented labour struggle in the region just as things had begun to dissipate elsewhere—from the mid-1970s on—culminating in one of the largest social movements in human history, in 1980, the independent and free trade union Solidarność (Solidarity). In recuperating these years, we locate a corresponding, alternative history for Polish political aesthetics and radical cinema practice after 1968, using a combination of historical documentation, close reading, and theoretical intervention. Like the politics of 1968, and the horizontal organizing of Solidarity, these films put pressure on existing categories of “the political,” locating it an aesthetics of participation and the spirit of research, in which viewers play a large part in constructing meaning, rather than it being a function of a self-contained “political text.” Much of this grows out of the strong documentary tradition in Polish cinema, which the film artists under discussion then subvert, pushing beyond its limits. We see how, in different ways, contemporaries Grzegorz Królikiewicz (Ch. 1) and Krzysztof Kieślowski (Ch. 2 and 3) call into question this tradition—the former using an avant-garde/film-theoretical approach, and the latter developing an immanent critique of the capacity of cinema to represent (i.e., speak for) political reality. Piotr Szulkin (Ch. 4) adds to these a haptic, affective element that explicitly theorizes labour as the subject of cinema. Finally, Andrzej Żuławski (Ch. 5) pushes these haptic, affective, elements into the red, using a visceral approach that marries genre cinema and historical embodiment, drawing on the traditions of Polish Romanticism and utopianism. In sum, these films use viewer participation to forge an embodied, affective, negativizing cinema aesthetic able to encompass a wider array of human experience than that circumscribed by Party politics or the (male) discourse of the intellectual opposition. This we call radical communication.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Fine Arts > Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Leppla, Dominic
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Program:Film and Moving Image Studies
Date:17 April 2019
Thesis Supervisor(s):Salazkina, Masha
ID Code:985541
Deposited On:14 Nov 2019 18:24
Last Modified:14 Nov 2019 18:24
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