Reading History Through Film

Cinema, Memory, and the Persistence of Time in Heddy Honigmann’s Forever

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

From Proust to Modigliani, Hedayat, Chopin and Mercoeur, in Forever we follow Honigmann in her journey through the mythical Père-Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris. Evoking the artistic legacies through the testimonies of those, anonymous people, who pay their homage to the most cherished artists, Honiggman's Forever constitutes an alternative way of reading art history, a memorial mosaic more and more haunted with ghosts and with reflections about life and death, joy and sorrow, memory and forgetfulness. The article argues that Forever constitutes an act of historical imagination that can be read through the notion of prosthetic memory [Landsberg, Alison. 2004. Prosthetic Memory. The Transformation of American Remembrance. New York: Columbia University Press.] – a type of memory enabled by mediated representations of the past and intersections between private and collective memories – offering an elaborative discussion of notions related to empathy, otherness and the politics of alterity. A specific relationship between Honigmann's documentary and Benjamin's thought is also established, stressing the ability of film to construct alternative modes of narrating the past. Drawing upon concepts from the fields of literature, history and film studies, the article claims that in Forever the poetics of documentary is contemporaneous to an ethical relation by which the persistence of time should be understood as change and redemption.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)56-71
Number of pages16
JournalStudies in Documentary Film
Volume12
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2018

Fingerprint

cinema
persistence
Data storage equipment
history
foreignness
Prosthetics
art history
collective memory
cemetery
memorial
empathy
testimony
artist
time
History Film
Persistence
Cinema
death
narrative
politics

Keywords

  • Heddi Honigmann
  • history and film
  • prosthetic memory
  • empathy
  • otherness
  • still and moving images

Cite this

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abstract = "From Proust to Modigliani, Hedayat, Chopin and Mercoeur, in Forever we follow Honigmann in her journey through the mythical P{\`e}re-Lachaise Cemetery, in Paris. Evoking the artistic legacies through the testimonies of those, anonymous people, who pay their homage to the most cherished artists, Honiggman's Forever constitutes an alternative way of reading art history, a memorial mosaic more and more haunted with ghosts and with reflections about life and death, joy and sorrow, memory and forgetfulness. The article argues that Forever constitutes an act of historical imagination that can be read through the notion of prosthetic memory [Landsberg, Alison. 2004. Prosthetic Memory. The Transformation of American Remembrance. New York: Columbia University Press.] – a type of memory enabled by mediated representations of the past and intersections between private and collective memories – offering an elaborative discussion of notions related to empathy, otherness and the politics of alterity. A specific relationship between Honigmann's documentary and Benjamin's thought is also established, stressing the ability of film to construct alternative modes of narrating the past. Drawing upon concepts from the fields of literature, history and film studies, the article claims that in Forever the poetics of documentary is contemporaneous to an ethical relation by which the persistence of time should be understood as change and redemption.",
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