The artist and the regime: Karel Kachyňa and four decades of Czechoslovak film

Ward, Kenneth (2022) The artist and the regime: Karel Kachyňa and four decades of Czechoslovak film. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The Artist and the Regime explores the works of Czech filmmaker Karel Kachyňa during four decades of the communist regime in Czechoslovakia. Despite being a prolific filmmaker who made over forty feature films across five decades, Kachyňa’s works outside the 1960s and the Czechoslovak New Wave have gone largely unnoticed in scholarship. This work challenges the uncertainty surrounding the reception of Kachyňa’s works in the context of a totalitarian regime and a nationalised film industry and offers the thesis that Kachyňa’s works provide a unique perspective on the communist era in Czechoslovakia. As such, this thesis engages with Kachyňa’s film poetics from the historical and analytical perspectives, as well as providing an examination of spectatorial theorising which comprises another aspect of film poetics and therefore contributes to knowledge in this field.

This work presents Kachyňa’s unusual treatment of socialist realism from the outset of the communist era in Czechoslovakia in 1948, his approach to Army Film, his invocation of issues surrounding the concept of borders, his depiction of child narratives, his dealing with taboo subjects, his influence on and contribution to the New Wave movement, and his engagement with Holocaust narratives as evidence of an artist whose humanist poetics were at odds with his environment, despite working as an agent for the regime within a nationalised film industry.

This paradoxical position offers an appreciation for individuals who experienced the trappings of the regime in Czechoslovakia during four decades of communist rule. By analysing a wide range of films in how they reflect and diverge from one another, this thesis ultimately argues that Kachyňa’s humanist poetics challenge a system that attempted to reduce the individual’s ability to express themselves freely. This thesis demonstrates how Kachyňa showed that it was possible to provide this challenge from within the staterun film industry without having works banned by the authorities. By examining his works throughout the communist regime in detail, a study of Kachyňa’s poetics reveals a filmmaker whose works continued to provide criticism of the regime and the filmmaking culture in an implicit manner and challenges the critical response to his works that currently exists. From this position, the thesis presented here argues that Kachyňa is an important filmmaker of the twentieth century whose works require greater attention in scholarship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1993 Motion Pictures
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > Slavonic Studies
Supervisor's Name: Solic, Dr. Mirna, Culik, Dr. Jan and Grossman, Dr. Elwira
Date of Award: 2022
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2022-82990
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 Jun 2022 13:32
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2022 13:34
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82990

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