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Fri, 30 Sep 2016 08:57:42 EDT by webmaster, 15511 views
DePaul University, Chicago
Language and Literature paper by Orban, Clara (all papers)
Identity in Fateless and Son of Saul
Separated by almost ten years, two films produced after Hungary’s entry into the European Union explore identity, separation, and loss. Both use the concentration camps as the setting for an examination of how an individual loses identity, recreates it, and then struggles to return to a previous identity in a changed world.
The 2006 Fateless begins in a somewhat conventional pre-war Budapest, and ends in the same location, changed because of the war. The concentration camp serves as the central non-Hungarian landscape, inhabited by inmates from throughout Europe. The road to, and then from, this descent into hell cannot but change the trajectory of the human lives that have undertaken the journey. The war proves a catalyst by which Hungary, and Hungarians, must mutate to survive.
Son of Saul (2015) presents a bleaker vision of human possibilities. Viewed entirely from the perspective of the inmate, the viewer knows almost nothing of his past life, only his present function within the multi-national concentration camp. From the dramatic moment when his past joins him in the camps in the form of a dead boy, past and present identity cannot be clearly separated. Identity appears only as a collective entity through ritual, but by film’s end it is precisely this renewed identification which proves hopeless.
In both films, Hungarian Jews negotiate their identity in extreme circumstances as they struggle to survive.
Brief Professional Bio:
CLARA ORBAN is professor of French and Italian at DePaul University. She received her Ph.D. in Romance Languages from the University of Chicago. She has eight published books including a novel and two wine books, several book chapters, articles, and presented papers on surrealism, futurism, language pedagogy, AIDS literature, sports, TV, and Italian film. She is also a certified sommelier and teaches a geography course based on wine at DePaul. Her current projects include Hungarian Cinema.