Kitsch

According to Czech writer Milan Kundera, the definition of kitsch is ”basically the absolute negation of the shit ; in literal sense as well as in figured sense”. This may be a surprising definition, but it is however the same one as Emir Kusturica's. But no mistake : I do not say that Emir Kusturica is kitsch ; on the contrary, he denounces the kitsch even if he seems to take a great pleasure in it.

Kitsch clears all the imperfections, proposes an ideal, an absolute happiness, a complete pleasure for the five senses.

  • Political kitsch is for example the communist utopia or the American dream : these beautiful images of exemplary children or courageous workers on one side, or coloured houses, plastic cactus and pink Cadillacs on the other side. Emir Kusturica even declared : ”the Russians and the Americans are the champions of the kitsch”.
  • Artistic kitsch is the blazing baroque of the colors and the music, the impossible characters, the magic realism, the dreams which mix with reality…
When father was away on business
Malik must take part in an official ceremony for the Communist Party, give a letter to the mayor and make a speech, like a ”good Communist”. Poor Malik will mistake in the words and will be deeply affected…
A similar scene takes place in Goran Marković's film Tito and me where Zoran, a young boy fan of Tito discovers after a long walk, an enormous and stinky canine dejection in front of the residence of the Marshall. A whole ideal breaks down…
Time of the Gypsies
The triumphal return of Ahmed, the sheik of the gypsies (sheik means “king”, just like “Emir”) to the gypsy camp. Big car, music, banknotes distributed to the poor and the fool, gold rings and hand-kissings. The kitsch according to the Gypsies : Ahmed is the example of success, whereas he actually abducts children for begging and prostitution in Italy.
Arizona Dream
The first goal of Arizona Dream was for Emir Kusturica to denounce the American dream, the blazing kitsch. Full of many classic Hollywood symbols (by the many film scenes remakes as well as by the choice of the actors), here is Jerry Lewis in pink costume and pink boots in front of his pink house and pink plastic flamingos in the garden.
Underground
Here we have an example of the kitsch at the second degree, a mix of artistic and political kitsch in this scene of Film inside the film : is this a parody of the 60's Yugoslav state cinema (kitsch by excellence), or even maybe a parody of Emir Kusturica's own cinema ? One can ask the question since the director appearing in the next shot looks like him, a pipe instead of a cigar…
Black Cat, White Cat
Back to the gypsy kitsch, but this time (9 years after Time of the Gypsies), the goal is not any more to denounce the obscure sides of the world of the Gypsies but well to show the coloured, luminous, shifted, funny and inventive side, which are even more in margin of our Western references.
Life is a miracle
Politic kitsch is evident during the rail road opening sequence. We think of When father was away on business, and all the kitsch linked to the huge official celebrations under the communist regime : children chorus, manual workers evocation, the surrealistic arrival of the train, descending from the sky…
Promise me this
Kitsch is also a way to make his dreams come true. Thus, this coloured and pimped Traban is a sign of evident good wealth…
en/kitsch.txt · Last modified: 2009/01/02 15:03 by matthieu1