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The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and RussiaBetween Pain and Pleasure$
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Ewa Mazierska, Matilda Mroz, and Elzbieta Ostrowska

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781474405140

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474405140.001.0001

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‘What Does Poland Want from Me?’ Male Hysteria in Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy

‘What Does Poland Want from Me?’ Male Hysteria in Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy

(p.31) Chapter 1 ‘What Does Poland Want from Me?’ Male Hysteria in Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy
The Cinematic Bodies of Eastern Europe and Russia

Elżbieta Ostrowska

Edinburgh University Press

Elżbieta Ostrowska examines Andrzej Wajda’s War Trilogy. She admits that the films need to be located within the vernacular tradition of Romanticism responding to the national trauma, but they also may be located within a broader context of psychoanalysis and universal traumas of modernity. Not only does she suggest necessity of employing these two conceptual frameworks, but she also claims that there is a symbiotic relationship between these two albeit rarely if ever recognised. Using Slavoj Žižek’s concept of ‘hysterical doubt’ and a Polish scholar Michał Paweł Markowski’s discussion of melancholia and hysteria, Ostrowska identifies hysterical subject in Polish Romantic culture emphasizing the uncertainty inscribed in it. She claims that the protagonists of Wajda’s War Trilogy are another embodiments of hysterical male subjects. As hysteria speaks exclusively through the body, the chapter focuses on the haptic potential of the cinematic image as well as specific bodily performances. Ostrowska argues that these excessive bodily spectacles that largely fit clinical descriptions of hysterical symptoms are indeed an attempt to overcome the actual lack of bodily agency and, by extension, male subjectivity. Hysterical body responds to ambiguities and uncertainties regarding vernacular masculine subject.

Keywords:   Polish cinema, masculinity, hysteria, Andrzej Wajda, Romanticism, trauma, body

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