"Can Michael the Brave love, or not?" : sex and sexuality in Romanian film culture
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This study seeks to trace a history of the representations of sex and sexuality in the Romanian film culture, specifically in relation to the various political, social, and economic factors that have shaped these representations. The assertion of this thesis is that, within the Romanian film culture, there is a continuity evident over the course of the last century, which takes the form of a tension between an impulse to showcase sexuality in an honest, liberated manner, and, opposing it, a systematic compulsion to conceal matters related to sexuality, due to both a tradition of repressed morality, and to an assortment of political and ideological repressive mechanisms. One of the aims of this thesis is to introduce more complex ways of understanding visibility and representation in cinema, beyond the confines of a profit-driven global film culture, therefore the study moves both on a national, and a transnational level. On the one hand, it explores the ways in which sexuality as represented in Romanian films could nuance the discussion concerning sexuality in the cinema. On the other, it looks at how sexuality as represented in other film cultures has travelled to, and has been received within, the specific Romanian context. While a national framework can be seen as limiting, it is also aimed to focus the discussion, and to establish a scope of concrete evidence to illustrate how the specificity of the context constructs specific ways in which sexuality is represented and interacted with at a cinematic level. In Dagmar Herzog’s words, “the nation-state is a logical unit to analyse when we are trying to understand changes in laws and government policies; and for most of the twentieth century, it is striking how profound an impact laws have had in shaping national and local sexual cultures and individuals’ self-conceptions alike, as well as – for instance, in the case of restrictions on contraceptive products – the actual bodily experiences of sex”. The analysis is divided into three main sections. The first focusses on the period between the start of the 20th century and the end of the Second World War, looking at the ways in which the Romanian film culture has communicated with the wider, American and European one, in terms of regulating film sexuality. The middle section moves to investigate how the mutations brought by state socialism in terms of ideology and morality have impacted on the visibility of film sexuality, which has been reduced to the point of sublimation. The final section explores the post-communist period, and the ways in which cinema, in the Romanian film culture, has used sex and sexuality to both reckon with a traumatic past, and alleviate traumas of the present.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
Embargo Date: 2024-11-08
Embargo Reason: Thesis restricted in accordance with University regulations. Print and electronic copy restricted until 8th November 2024
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