Film Genres in Hungarian and Romanian Cinema: History, Theory, and Reception discusses how the Hungarian and Romanian film industries show signs of becoming a regional hub within the Eastern European canon, a process occasionally facilitated by the cultural overlap through the historical province of Transylvania. Andrea Virginás employs a film historical overview to merge the study of small national cinemas with film genre theory and cultural theory and posits that Hollywood-originated classical film genres have been important fields of reference for the development of these Eastern European cinemas. Furthermore, Virginás argues that Hungarian and Romanian genre films demonstrate a valid evolution within the given genre’s standards, and thus need to be incorporated into the global discourse on this subject. Scholars of film studies, Eastern European studies, cultural studies, and history will find this book particularly useful.
Andrea Virginás is associate professor in the media department of Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania.
Chapter 1: Conceptual Foundations, Corpus and Methodology
Chapter 2: A Historical Overview of Hungarian and Romanian Genre Cinema
Chapter 3: Small National Cinemas, Genre Theory and Cultural Polysystems
Chapter 4: A 21st-Century Panorama: Glocal Connections and Regional Resemblances in Hungarian and Romanian Popular Films
Chapter 5: Melodramas: “Non/Excessive Crisis Heterotopias” in Small National and Global Melodramas
Chapter 6: Westerns, Gangsters and Thrillers: “Transparent” Western Vistas and Male Traumas along the Global Mainstream–Small National Axis
Chapter 7: Transitional Horror and Science Fiction: Patterns of Embodiment in Mainstream and Small National Horror/Science-Fiction Hybrids
Chapter 8: Crime and Changing Society/Technology: Analogue Feminine Traumas and Digital Electronic Traces in Small National Crime Thrillers
Chapter 9: A Post/Classical Formation: The Co-Productional Eastern European Film Noir
Chapter 10: Women's Films and Female Film Stars in 21st Century Hungarian and Romanian Cinema: Simplifying and Un-glamorizing the Global
Chapter 11: Conclusion: Classical Film Genres and Eastern European Small National Cinemas: Creative Interferences
About the Author
Early chapters verge on extended encyclopedia articles, packed with detailed summaries of the research of previous scholars. The critical style in these sections is apparently due to the “postdoctoral research project that stands as the basis of this monograph” (p. 16). But here encyclopedic is a compliment, and the book as a whole brilliantly justifies bringing together these two Eastern European cinemas. After discussing “small national cinemas” and “glocality” Virginás turns her focus to individual genres: melodrama, Westerns and thrillers, horror and science fiction, film noir, and women’s films. Virginás skillfully navigates between film theory written in English and scholarship written in Romanian and Hungarian. A real gift to Anglophone film scholars. Recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
Andrea Virginás’ comparative account of Hungarian and Romanian cinema in the wake of the relevant countries’ accession to the European Union sheds light on the dynamics of small nationhood through the well-selected optic of genre formation and transnational collaboration. This book makes a valuable contribution and deserves a wide audience.
Andrea Virginás’ superb study documents the efflorescence of transcultural adaptation and mixing of genres and narrative conventions in films that form an emergent world cinema. This book is especially valuable in showing how post-classical Hollywood interacts with Eastern European, and especially Hungarian and Romanian, cinematic cultures. Readers of Virginás will come away with an enriched set of answers to the question of world cinema.
This book provides a wealth of information about these two film cultures’ linked histories, shared genres, industrial cooperations, and difficulties in a post-cinematic age. But the book also has much to offer to those looking for a model for approaching small cinemas beyond the national category and even beyond the comparative method. This is a thorough and well-researched “pilot study,” as the author calls it, of approaches and methods that can be applied to other contemporary regional cinemas that developed along and across shared borders, tastes, and traumas.
Just as film genre studies rarely discuss Eastern European examples, Eastern European film studies are also typically concerned with art cinema and not genre films. Andrea Virginás’ book refreshes our understanding of and approach to small cinema genres and Eastern European popular cinema with a creative combination of diverse theoretical concepts from the humanities and film genre studies. Focusing on a comparative analysis of 21st-century Romanian and Hungarian genre films, this book not only thinks outside of the “national cinema box” but provides new perspectives for Hollywood-based and mainstream-focused genre studies. The two most common considerations regarding Eastern European genre films are that there are only a limited number of genre films made, and genre examples from the region are not typical examples of the given genre: cultural context and the locally-dominant versions of art cinema strongly influence the patterns of the films made in the region. Virginás’ book inspiringly steps beyond these presuppositions and provides inventive perspectives for the negotiation of non-Hollywood genre films and small cinemas.
The book locates the genre elements of twenty-first century Hungarian and Romanian cinema at the intersection of “the global space of flows and the local ‘space of places’” and illuminates the complex ways in which these films negotiate shared historical traumas and cultural taboos through the reworking of Hollywood genres.
The volume invites readers to partake in an investigation tracing signs of generic poetics, mechanisms, and accents in this most hybridized layer of film culture, signs that render legible basic qualities and the discursive logic of Eastern European small cinemas much better than national imitations of Hollywood genre films.
YouTube video of a roundtable with the Central East South European Cinema Studies Network (author talks about her book at around the 27-minute mark): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQSkozQk1ek