Date of Degree

2-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Morris Dickstein

Subject Categories

Film and Media Studies

Keywords

Communist, Czechoslovak, Film, Humanity, Trials

Abstract

The period 1949-1953 was one of the most inhuman times in Czechoslovak history. Almost immediately after the Communists violently took over the country in 1948, the Communist party started a campaign of terror in order to spread fear. It made the society weak and obedient. The terror never disappeared completely but it lost its enormous intensity after Stalin's death in 1953. The end of 1940s and beginning of 1950s was a time of political trials with the party insiders. The false accusations and executions of the innocent people were used to demonstrate to the Soviet Union the power and loyalty of the Czechoslovak Communist party's hard core. As this thesis focuses on manifestation of humanity and humanism in Czechoslovak cinema 1949 -1953, it is crucial to define the terms humanity and humanism to make clear the target of this thesis research. It is also necessary to describe the time period between 1945 and 1948 in terms of changes within the film industry to understand the events happening in the industry after the Communist putsch in 1948. It is believed that the films between 1949 and 1953 only present shallow stories supporting the pillars of the Communist ideology. It is also commonly assumed that people in the film industry were paralyzed by the fear of losing a job or, in the worst case, of a ruined life so they did not attempt to create something else than propaganda films. However, the common belief about the Czechoslovak cinema in the 1950s is that it didn't bring out anything valuable, because the government's censors controlled it; this thesis assumes that is not the whole picture. There were certainly propagandistic films using schematic characters and situations, but there were also films made in the period that are more than that. In line with the foregoing, this thesis concentrates on the films' genre, theme, plot, characters, denouement and, most importantly, the message. Then it is able to recognize what are the forms mediating humanity and humanism in the films.

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