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Lives in Limbo: Memory, History, and Entrapment in the Temporal Gateway Film

Casey Benyahia, Sarah (2019) Lives in Limbo: Memory, History, and Entrapment in the Temporal Gateway Film. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the ways in which contemporary cinema from a range of different countries, incorporating a variety of styles and genres, explores the relationship to the past of people living in the present who are affected by traumatic national histories. These films, which I’ve grouped under the term ‘temporal gateway’, focus on the ways in which characters’ experiences of temporality are fragmented, and cause and effect relationships are loosened as a result of their situations. Rather than a recreation of historical events, these films are concerned with questions of how to remember the past without being defined and trapped by it: often exploring past events at a remove through techniques of flashback and mise-en-abyme. This thesis argues that a fuller understanding of how relationships to the past are represented in what have traditionally been seen as different ‘national’ cinemas is enabled by the hybridity and indeterminacy of the temporal gateway films, which don’t fit neatly into existing categories discussed and defined in memory studies. This thesis employs an interdisciplinary approach in order to draw out the features of the temporal gateway film, demonstrating how the central protagonist, the character whose life is in limbo, personifies the experience of living through the past in the present. This experience relates to the specifics of a post-trauma society but also to a wider encounter with disrupted temporality as a feature of contemporary life. I demonstrate how these films construct a new way of transmitting the experience of living with the past, through detailed analysis of approximately fourteen films from Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, including a detailed study of Lucrecia Martel’s work. This formal analysis is developed through the perspective of the historical, political and institutional to show how the films transcend a variety of existing definitions in films studies, to blur boundaries of categorisation.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
N Fine Arts > NX Arts in general
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Sarah Casey Benyahia
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2019 08:57
Last Modified: 15 Apr 2019 08:57
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24449

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