Eastern Extreme: The Presentation of Eastern Europe as a Site of Monstrosity in <i>La Vie nouvelle</i> and <i>Import/Export</i>

Michael Goddard

in The New Extremism in Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641604
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651221 | DOI:
Eastern Extreme: The Presentation of Eastern Europe as a Site of Monstrosity in La Vie nouvelle and Import/Export

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Despite the breakdown of the Cold War division of Europe into separate Western and Eastern political zones, Eastern Europe is presented condescendingly as the ‘new Europe’ as if it had no history prior to 1989 and above all in terms of abjection and monstrosity. This chapter focuses on this presentation of Eastern Europe as a site of the extreme and of monstrosity in two recent (Western) European art movies: Philippe Grandrieux's La Vie nouvelle (2002) and Ulrich Seidl's Import/Export (2007). It argues that while both films could be accused of conforming to a clichéd, primitivist view of Eastern Europe, their resort to violence, monstrosity and extreme sensations is essential to the political questions the films raise about the still-divided constitution of contemporary Europe. Before addressing these films directly, however, the chapter looks at the reduction of Eastern Europe to the status of primitive, monstrous other, as developed in the work of Marina Gržinić and other critics.

Keywords: Eastern Europe; monstrosity; La Vie nouvelle; Import/Export; Philippe Grandrieux; Ulrich Seidl; violence; extreme sensations; Marina Gržinić

Chapter.  5036 words. 

Subjects: Film

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