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Beauty and historical understanding in Suspiria and Cold War

Beauty and historical understanding in Suspiria and Cold War
Beauty and historical understanding in Suspiria and Cold War
This essay concerns two historical films both released in 2018 to widespread critical attention (if not in both cases acclaim). Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018) remake revisits the cult horror about a dance academy in the Black Forest by relocating the action to a politically divided Berlin in the 1970s. Cold War (Pawlikowski, 2018) tells the original story of a romance between a singer and a musicologist in the years 1949 to 1964 and across their European exile and their eventual return to Communist Poland. Completely different in plot and style, the two films have one important thing in common: they offer beauty as a form of historical understanding. Beauty provides both a goal and a sensibility for the films’ performer protagonists and their directorial styles alike. Identifiable in both films as an appeal to deep feeling and formal perfection, beauty is neither merely formalistic nor uniquely individual. Instead, it shows the delicacy of artistic feeling to be shaped by the dynamics of an often ugly historical reality. As these films beautify, so they historicize: by being about dance and song, love and sensuality, they are also about genocide and terror, totalitarianism and persecution. Their common story of beauty endangered by brutality places them within a longer tradition that looks at Europe’s past aesthetically, as it also expresses a historically determined position with regards to the European present.
European cinema, Cold War, Suspiria, Beauty, Aesthetics, History, Retro
Routledge
Bayman, Louis
4ac4c78c-a62e-43a4-aa70-497ab56dcad4
Gergely, Gábor
Hayward, Susan
Bayman, Louis
4ac4c78c-a62e-43a4-aa70-497ab56dcad4
Gergely, Gábor
Hayward, Susan

Bayman, Louis (2022) Beauty and historical understanding in Suspiria and Cold War. In, Gergely, Gábor and Hayward, Susan (eds.) Routledge Companion to European Cinema. Routledge.

Record type: Book Section

Abstract

This essay concerns two historical films both released in 2018 to widespread critical attention (if not in both cases acclaim). Guadagnino’s Suspiria (2018) remake revisits the cult horror about a dance academy in the Black Forest by relocating the action to a politically divided Berlin in the 1970s. Cold War (Pawlikowski, 2018) tells the original story of a romance between a singer and a musicologist in the years 1949 to 1964 and across their European exile and their eventual return to Communist Poland. Completely different in plot and style, the two films have one important thing in common: they offer beauty as a form of historical understanding. Beauty provides both a goal and a sensibility for the films’ performer protagonists and their directorial styles alike. Identifiable in both films as an appeal to deep feeling and formal perfection, beauty is neither merely formalistic nor uniquely individual. Instead, it shows the delicacy of artistic feeling to be shaped by the dynamics of an often ugly historical reality. As these films beautify, so they historicize: by being about dance and song, love and sensuality, they are also about genocide and terror, totalitarianism and persecution. Their common story of beauty endangered by brutality places them within a longer tradition that looks at Europe’s past aesthetically, as it also expresses a historically determined position with regards to the European present.

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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 2021
Published date: January 2022
Keywords: European cinema, Cold War, Suspiria, Beauty, Aesthetics, History, Retro

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 449583
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/449583
PURE UUID: 4eba3ac6-0d4f-4632-8932-9ef22f067e7c
ORCID for Louis Bayman: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4780-2057

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 08 Jun 2021 16:32
Last modified: 23 Jul 2022 02:11

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Contributors

Author: Louis Bayman ORCID iD
Editor: Gábor Gergely
Editor: Susan Hayward

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