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Cinema's AlchemistThe Films of Péter Forgács$
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Bill Nichols and Michael Renov

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816648740

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816648740.001.0001

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Ordinary Film

Ordinary Film

The Maelstrom

(p.75) 4 Ordinary Film
Cinema's Alchemist

Michael S. Roth

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter provides an overview of Péter Forgács’s film The Maelstrom. It argues that Forgács’s challenge as a filmmaker, as an archivist, and as a film explorer is to preserve the ordinariness of his subjects even as he frames them for us in extraordinary times. Melodrama, skepticism, and irony are three standard responses to the nonfiction film, responses that may have more potency with regard to the reframing and rethinking of home movies that is part of Forgács’s project. Forgács introduces a mode of comparison into Maelstrom that is both extreme and delicate. The Peerebooms are not the only family pictured in the film. He also takes us into the world of the Seyss-Inquarts by showing earlier clips from an amateur film of a Nazi youth group in Holland in 1935 and by voice-overs that announce Hitler’s welcome in Vienna in 1938 and the attack on Western Europe in 1940.

Keywords:   Péter Forgács, The Maelstrom, filmmaker, archivist, melodrama, skepticism, irony, nonfiction film, home movies, Nazi

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