Coming to Terms with the Communist Past: Mourning, Trauma and Nostalgia in Krzysztof Kieślowski’s film Blue (1993) and Ivan Golev’s novel Dany (2005)

Teodora Atanasova
Georgetown University

Svetlana Boym’s The Future of Nostalgia and Charity Scribner’s Requiem for Communism are among the very few books in the field of cultural studies in the United States that have addressed the concept of nostalgia in the context of the post-communist transition to democracy. Boym freed the concept from the negative connotations that are usually associated with it, whereas Scribner showed that the communist system consisted of utopian elements, such as the socialist collective, which are worthy to be preserved even though the political system itself has lost all its credibility.
I will analyze Krzysztof Kieślowski’s film Blue (1993) and Ivan Golev’s novel Dany (2005) through the prism of Boym’s and Scribner’s theoretical approaches in order to demonstrate the important role that film and literature have played in the shift that has taken place in the discourse about the post-communist past in Central and Eastern Europe. Initially, discussions about post-communism oscillated between two diametrically opposed poles. On the one end of the spectrum were those who passionately supported the new democratic regimes. On the other end were all those who were unwilling to part with the security with which the communist system provided them.
In this paper I will argue that literary and cinematic works have generated a process of remembering the past by opening poetic spaces within which images of the past can be re-evaluated and reconstructed. In this way literature and film have acted as catalysts for a more critical and complex evaluation of the past. Blue and Dany will allow me to illustrate that the process of coming to terms with communism was a long and painful endeavor and therefore a lot of time will need to pass before the legacies of communism can be confronted, processed and transformed into assets for the future.

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