Moving Pictures at the Edge of Stasis

Paul Coates

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

Moving Pictures at the Edge of Stasis


This article addresses elegy in film. Although Totem and Taboo does not mention elegy explicitly, Sigmund Freud's remarks on the remorse and tenderness a band of brothers feel for the patriarch of the primal horde after murdering him allow one to surmise that he would have considered the first elegy to be motivated. Although cinema is shot through with elegiac moments, it contains very few films classifiable generically as elegies. Voiceover and the drama of the future are impregnated with elegy. Music is one of the key distancing devices film employs to elegiac ends. Claude Lanzmann's Shoah meditates upon the near-annihilation of the Jews in the concentration camps of the National Socialists as the final stage in a gradual process of anti-Semitic exclusion originating deep in the darkest recesses of European history. Maciej Drygas' film stands in a tradition for which elegy can represent indictment.

Keywords: elegy; film; Maciej Drygas; Totem and Taboo; voiceover; music; Shoah; Claude Lanzmann

Article.  8145 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Film

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