Grażyna Świętochowska

László Nemes’ »Saul Fia« as Genetic and Formal Failure or Trauma Realism

Eine Metrostation in goldenes Licht getaucht

The genesis of this paper are two particular moments in László Nemes’ film: the first and the last frame which doesn’t belong to anybody. The continuity of camera work between them is suspicious. It comes from nowhere and it stops between the trees. It is a posthuman role-play game. Because of that object we need all that synaesthetic prosthesis: in spite of expanded visuality we get difference aspects of smelling, hearing, touching. Especially we are inside the stratum of sounds.

What have we known till now? How certain cinematic devices express or evade the moral issues inherent in the subject. For example, how is Alain Resnais’s tracking camera in »Night and Fog« involved in moral investigation (Insdorf. 2003). We know that Claude Lanzmann’s »Shoah« is sterile and pure. That it is a statue. It doesn’t need to use an archive because it is »lieu de mémoire« itself. The informative gesture of the medium is not valuable any more. A film event is destined to be a work of art (Didi-Huberman. 2004). In my reading I make reference to the theory of trauma realism (Hal Foster, Marc Rothberg). There are a few definitions or developments of trauma realism in cinema (or any narrative structure). One is trauma realism understood as an attempt to create a trauma event inside the movie image. Then a scar, a split is a testimony and a potential subject of knowledge. What if a repetition of primordial scene (in Lacanian sense »Le reel«) is located on suburbia of main film text?

Grażyna Świętochowska is assistant professor at the University of Gdansk (Faculty of Languages, Film and Audiovisual Culture Department) in Poland. Her PhD thesis was entitled »The Czechoslovak New Wave as a form of film modernism« (2014). She has published several articles such as »The Time is Out of Joint and Between« (2014) and »The Continual Return Journey« (2014).