The Illusion of Distance and the Spectre of Proximity in the Films of Jorge Semprun

Avril Tynan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Historical and political films offer a unique perspective onthe relationship between distance and proximity: based inchronological fact and accuracy, they bring that which is remote,past, or out-of-date back into the here-and-now of the present day. The films of Jorge Semprun are exemplary politico-historical films, reanimating rebellion, conflict and ideological differences from a broad European and 20th century perspective. While the visual reanimation of the past may appear to bring the events into the immediacy of the present, the viewing experience itself, complete with contemporary misunderstandings and misconceptions, only underlines the remoteness of the event. This paper explores how this juxtaposition of distance and proximity in politico-historical film reflects the position of Europe and of Semprun; symptomatic of the traumatic irresolution of history and memory. Ultimately, Semprun’s films only show something which is there without ever really being there: haunted by spectres of proximity, ghosted by the illusion of distance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-96
Number of pages8
JournalTropos: The Journal of Comparative Cultural Inquiry
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015

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