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TitleWords and Images on the Screen: Language, Literature and Moving Pictures
PublisherCambridge Scholars Publishing
CategoryArts - Film
Author
LanguageEnglish
File Size3.8 MB
Total Pages401
Table of Contents
                            TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTRODUCTION
PART I
	LITERARY ADAPTATIONS IN POST-COMMUNIST EASTERN AND CENTRAL EUROPEAN CINEMA
	LINKS
	INTERSECTIONS AND PARALLEL PHENOMENA IN THE HISTORY OF GERMAN FILM AND LITERATURE
	MEDIAL EQUIVALENCES, FUNCTIONAL ANALOGIES? THE RHETORIC OF ADAPTATION (TOM JONES, ORLANDO, THE FRENCH LIEUTENANT’S WOMAN)
	MAKING MEANING IN BÉLA TARR’S ADAPTATION SATAN TANGO
	MONTAGE OF SCENTS. INTERMEDIALITY AND “INTERSENSUALITY” IN PATRICK SUSKIND’S AND TOM TYKWER’S PERFUME
	ADAPTING (TO) THE LETTER
	A VERSION OF A CULT OR THE MASTER AND MARGARITA AS TV SERIES
PART II
	IS SILENCE HEREDITARY? WRITTEN WORDS AND ACOUSTIC EVENTS IN A CONTEMPORARY SILENT FILM
	THE SCREEN IS A BLANK PAGE
	FROM WHITE PAGE TO WHITE LIGHT
	“THE TEXTURE OF THE MEDIUM”
	TEXTUALITY BEYOND THE WORD
	FILMS NOT SHOT BUT BLOODIED
	WORDLESS WORLDS? SOME NOTES ON THE VERBALITY IN ANIMATED FILMS THROUGH THE USE OF VERBALITY IN PÉTER SZOBOSZLAY'S ANIMATED FILMS
	BUILDING NARRATIVELY LAYERED CITIES
PART III
	SET JETTING IN WADI RUM
	CULTURAL MEMORY AND NATIONAL IDENTITY
	THE WORDS AND THE IMAGES OF THE TALE
	BUSINESS CLASS HAMLET
	FORUGH FARROKHZAD’S POETRY AND FILM
	MEDIATION AND PASSAGE
	CAN PLATONIC IDEALS BE REPRESENTED IN FILM?
	THE AESTHETIC IDEOLOGY OF PORNOGRAPHY
	FILM + LANGUAGE = FILMLANGUAGE? THEORETICAL ENQUIRIES IN HUNGARIAN FILM THEORY AND AESTHETICS
CONTRIBUTORS
                        
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Words and Images on the Screen:
Language, Literature, Moving Pictures

Page 200

From White Page to White Light: Fassbinder and Self-Reflexion
in the Art of Film



192

reflexive instances referring to the medium of the film, such as the fade-
out of the last static image preceding the main title, an image of a decisive
importance for the present paper, can only be understood in the context of
the narrative, as self-reflexion cannot be separated from the diegetic world
of the novel.

The narration of the film is centered around Hermann Hermann’s, the
hero’s, developing schizophrenia. However, paradoxically enough, this
schizophrenia does not strike Hermann as an unmanageable, inevitable
illness, but it is the result of a conscious decision. The Russian emigrant
chocolate factory owner who lives in Berlin at the beginning of the 1930s
wants to escape his own life by doubling his personality. His reason, as it
appears at Fassbinder, is the social and political background of his age,
which in Nabokov’s novel is only distantly reflected. The destitution
following the great economical crisis worldwide and the rapid spreading of
fascism all over Germany drive the half Jewish, half Russian genteel
businessman, who keeps politics away from himself and is proud of his
taste, not to an active political involvement, but to escape. By creating for
himself a new personality, Hermann chooses a type of emigration more
radical than the spatial one. First, he doubles himself: he becomes the
shaper and at the same time viewer of his own life, forming a role and
externally enjoying it. While he is making love to his wife, Lydia, his
other self watches them from an armchair; the moment when the gaze of
the two Hermanns meet threatens with an identity crisis, and at the same
time it has a self-reinforcing effect by fulfilling his exhibitionist and
voyeuristic desires. The second step of the splitting of consciousness is
when he creates his own counterpart in a tramp called Felix, who does not
resemble him at all. By dressing up this counterpart in his own clothes and
killing him, Hermann takes over Felix’ identity, he flees in the world with
the name and identity of the tramp. The man’s temporary sense of
satisfaction and safety is created by the awareness of his own omnipotence
in creating a new identity for himself to display to the outside world. His
escaping the reality has become so perfect that he experiences every
instance of his life as a film written and directed by himself.

The nature of Hermann’s schizophrenia raises the problem of the
medial reflexivity of the Despair. Although the media of literature,
painting, photography, theatre, and film all have a role to play in the novel
as objects of the narrator’s meditations, Fassbinder restricts this reference
system to film and painting. Fassbinder had portrayed for the first time the
ironic image of the schizophrenic artist who unconcernedly exploits others
in the knowledge of his superiority and chosenness one year before the
Despair, in his satire entitled Satan’s Brew. This grotesque artistic portrait

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Lóránt St hr


193

is divided into two characters in the Despair: the one is Ardalion, the self-
considered professional painter, whose jovial character confidently proud
of his art Fassbinder has portrayed in parodistically exaggerated features;
the other is Hermann, whose art is to re-create himself in the figure of
another man, and who does not recoil even from murder in the name of the
sublime purpose of art. Although the novel’s motif of Hermann writing his
memoirs is absent from the film, he still remains an artist in the film as
well, being at the same time the director, actor, and viewer of his own life.
In the first step of the splitting of his consciousness, the emphasis falls on
Hermann’s person as a viewer: Hermann watches himself make love as a
film viewer, also suggested by the cut showing the change of the
viewpoint, as the film viewer’s viewpoint coincides with the watching
Hermann’s. Hermann turns himself into a viewer, and with the same move
also into an actor: he creates an external viewpoint as his own
reinforcement. But in the second step he turns the outside world into a
viewer, thus bringing forth his role as an actor and film director. He
introduces himself to Felix as an actor who needs a double; but the finding
and clothing of the man who plays his counterpart, the creation of the story
connecting them, and the setting of the place of the murder, are all parts of
a director’s work. However, film directing can never completely cover or
rewrite the reality, and therefore Hermann’s film, in which he turns his life
into a criminal story, is not perfect either: even if he clothes Felix in his
own garments, the difference between the role and the actor, Hermann and
Felix, always remains apparent in the eyes of the viewers. The outside
world is more exuberant and more incidental than a film could possibly re-
create it: Hermann does not reckon with Felix’ stick on the basis of which
the police identify the hitherto unknown victim. That is, although
Hermann has turned his life into a film, the viewers, the people living
around him, do not want to believe in the illusion created by the work of
art.

Hermann/Felix faces an indissoluble identity crisis, because he
Hermann is killed, but the mirror still reminds him of Hermann, and the
outside world also does not accept him as Felix. Hermann flees to mental
illness. In the final scene of the film, in the presence of the police arresting
him, he behaves like an actor who is shooting a criminal film, in which the
main hero is being arrested. His confused behaviour, recitation, and gaze
show that Hermann is no longer in control of his consciousness, he cannot
control when to play or not to play a part. The white light of over-exposure
becomes the metaphor of the loss of consciousness and identity.
Hermann’s basic movement in the course of the narration is the stepping-
out: from his own consciousness, from his body, from his identity. The

Page 400

Contributors


392

médiaoktatás Magyarországon 1960-2000. (From Film Aesthetics to
Media Studies. Cinema- and Mediapedagogy in Hungary between 1960
and 2000.)

László Tarnay is an associate professor at the Centre for the Study of the
Moving Image at the University of Pécs, Hungary. He teaches aesthetics,
film theory and analysis. His research interests are French phenomenology
and cognitive film theory. He is the co-author of The recognition of
specificity and social cognition Frankfurt: Peter Lang, 2004. He has
published articles in Degrés, Journal of Cinema Studies, and several
Hungarian language journals. He has also translated two books from the
French philosopher, Emmanuel Lévinas into Hungarian.

János Zoltán Tóth is a PhD student at the University of Szeged. He is
writing his dissertation on the critical evaluation of representation theories
of pornography. His research interests are film theories, visual
anthropology, body arts.

Katalin Turnacker is a teacher of the Film and Visual Culture Seminar at
the University of Pécs, Hungary. She has also a teacher’s degree in
biology and design, a Bachelor of Arts degree in German language and
literature, and a pedagogical degree in the culture of motion picture and
media knowledge. She is a PhD-student of the Doctoral School of Literary
Sciences of the University of Pécs. Her publications appeared in several
Hungarian periodicals.

Györgyi Vajdovich is an assistant professor at the Institute for Art Theory
and Media Studies, Department of Film Theory and Film History of
Eötvös Loránd University (ELTE), Budapest. She has published articles in
Hungarian journals on film adaptation, Dracula films and the influence of
the French Nouveau Roman on film.

Zoltán Varga is an MA student at Eötvös Loránd University Budapest in
Film Studies and Hungarian Language and Literature. His research
interests are genre theory, popular films (especially horror and vampire
films, the influence of Hitchcock’s oeuvre) and animated films. He has
published articles in various Hungarian film journals since 2004 (the
topics include issues such as films and dreams, tendencies in horror film,
animated films and writings about Tim Burton, Brian De Palma and
Walerian Borowczyk).

Page 401

Word and Images: Language/Literature/Moving Pictures 393

Andrea Virginás is a lecturer at the Sapientia – The Hungarian University
of Transylvania, Cluj, Romania, the Department of Photography, Film,
and Media. She teaches communication theory, popular culture theory,
genre film studies, and film history. Her research interests are gendering
strategies and cultural/medial canons in contemporary literature, film and
media. She has published several articles in collections of essays,
conference volumes and journals. Her PhD thesis, Crime Genres and the
Modern-Postmodern Turn: Canons, Gender, Media, is currently under
print at the Scientia Publishing House, Romania.

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