Title

Women’s affective transactions and the memory of Hungarian (historical) affairs: Istvan Szabo’s The Door (2012)

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Szidonia Haragos, Zayed University

Document Type

Article

Source of Publication

Studies in European Cinema

Publication Date

4-26-2022

Abstract

The article highlights the cinematic portrayal of a woman’s exceptional affective agency against the backdrop of historical trauma, more specifically, of the Holocaust in Hungary, in Hungarian director Istvan Szabo’s The Door (Az ajto 2012) based on Hungarian writer Magda Szabo’s eponymous novel The Door (Az ajto 1987). Through a juxtaposition of the cinematic and the literary text, the article discusses central protagonist Emerenc Szeredas’s affective transaction to save the life of a little Jewish girl in Nazi-occupied Budapest. Emerenc’s ‘affective bargain’ through which she sustains the ‘cruel optimism’ (Lauren Berlant) of love and compassion pits her gendered capital against devalued Jewish life. The film conveys the costs of such an affective transaction and Emerenc’s ultimate failure to achieve ‘the good life’ (Sara Ahmed) of societal expectations. What transpires in The Door at the convergence of cinematic discourse and literary text is female agency constrained within the severely limited terrain of patriarchal economy. In terms of Istvan Szabo’s cinematography, The Door instantiates yet another engagement with the Holocaust as Szabo’s lifelong preoccupation, and it stands for a significant intervention into the current post-Holocaust memory discourse in Hungary.

ISSN

1741-1548

Publisher

Informa UK Limited

First Page

1

Last Page

13

Disciplines

Film and Media Studies | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Keywords

Affect, cruel optimism, affective transactions, Hungary, Holocaust

Indexed in Scopus

no

Open Access

no

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