Chronicling private lives: the narratives of fulfilment in Helena Třeštíková’s longitudinal documentary films

Beaton, Sam (2018) Chronicling private lives: the narratives of fulfilment in Helena Třeštíková’s longitudinal documentary films. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The longitudinal documentary films of director Helena Třeštíková have observed a number of subjects over a career that has spanned two distinct historical periods in Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic. Both the normalisation system of communist Czechoslovakia, and the transition to a post-communist market economy after 1989, have impacted documentary production and the narratives within them, in addition to the specific topics and interests which filmmakers have focused on. For Třeštíková, who has often explored intimate, personal themes of subjects across authoritarianism and liberal democracy, a number of narratives concerning the fulfilment and well-being of protagonists has emerged. What is particularly fascinating is witnessing how the director crafts narratives in relation to the dominant documentary discourses of normalisation and post-normalisation, and what they argue about the impact that these different systems have on those who live in the Czech Republic.
Although a number of political analyses have been written concerning Czech history, there are significant gaps in a number of fields pertaining to documentary cinema and culture. This is particularly evident in the English language, with a lack of scholarship on the film and television tradition of either normalisation Czechoslovakia or what occurred after the fall of the regime. This thesis contends that further research into these fields is important for a number of reasons, particularly as there is little existing knowledge on how these times of political upheaval have been represented by documentarists; and that research of documentaries cast light onto individual destinies and lives while dealing with grand historical narratives from below. Furthermore, a study which investigates Třeštíková and the Czech experience can provide an insight into the wider role of woman documentarists and the study of documentaries in general.
This thesis will explore how Helena Třeštíková addresses the concept of fulfilment and crafts narratives which relate to it in her longitudinal films. To do this, two of the director’s documentary cycles will be analysed alongside three standalone feature-length films, and against the existing non-fiction films and programmes of the two historical periods which are referenced. The study will conclude that the longitudinal approach to documentary allows Třeštíková to craft narratives that subvert the values of the state socialist system, before expanding to reveal that many barriers to fulfilment that existed in the 1980s remain after the Velvet Revolution; and that fulfilment emerges as a cycle which continues to affect subsequent generations of Czechs regardless of what system they are governed by.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Solic, Dr. Mirna and Culik, Dr. Jan
Date of Award: 2018
Depositing User: Sam Beaton
Unique ID: glathesis:2018-40977
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 04 Mar 2019 09:53
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2022 12:09
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.40977

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