Looking at contemporary conflict through the lens of the past has been a prominent aspect of Shakespeare’s afterlife. Even today, his plays continue to be mobilized in the Balkan region in order to address the aftermath of ethnic violence. This article focuses on theatrical and cinematic takes that are chronologically close but geographically distant from the Yugoslav context. Katie Mitchell’s staging of 3 Henry VI (1994), Sarah Kane’s play Blasted (1995) and Mario Martone’s documentary-style film, Rehearsal for War (1998) were all prompted by a deep-felt urge to confront the Bosnian war and reclaim it from the non-European otherness to which it systematically became confined in public discourse at the time. In Shakespeare, these artists found a powerful conceptual aid to universalize the conflict, as well as a means to address their discursive positioning as outsiders and its problematic implications.
Theatrical and Cinematic Encounters with the Balkans War
From 'Forging' to 'Deciphering'
Zeev Lerer and Sarit Amram-Katz
This article discusses the links between military knowledge production and the cultural representations of war based on the Israeli experience during the past two decades. It argues that the locus of military knowledge production has moved from what can be described as 'forging knowledge' to 'deciphering knowledge'. This transition is linked to a crisis in the classic representation of war, which is based on the congruence between three binary signifiers: enemy, arena, and violence. The article asserts that the blurring of these three signifiers has created a Bourdieuian field of military knowledge production in which symbolic capital is obtained from the production of knowledge that deciphers the new uncertainty. The article follows the relations between the binaries and the types of knowledge that have been imported and translated in the IDF with regard to four major operational settings: the Oslo redeployment, the Second Intifada, the disengagement from Gaza, and the aftermath of the Second Lebanon War.
Repetition as Failure and Success in Apocalypse Now
Andrew Michael Roberts and Peter Easingwood
The question posed by Francis Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now is a very Conradian one: what does this experience mean? Apart of Conrad’s achievement as a writer was to introduce epistemological and existential questions into narratives of adventure. In this way Conrad transformed the nineteenth-century masculine romance of exploration, conquest, war and heroism into a modernist form capable of raising profound philosophical and political issues. While Coppola’s film is not a version of Heart of Darkness so much as a radical reworking of Conrad’s novella in the context of the Vietnam War, Conrad’s text played a crucial part both in the initial idea of the film and in the problematic final stages of its production when the director, tormented by the inability to find a satisfactory ending, returned again and again to Conrad’s text. In this paper we want to suggest that the concern with the problem of meaning which Coppola derives from Conrad initially led the director astray, in a search for existential meaning in a situation where only a politicised account could be ethically responsive. Eventually, however, Conrad’s sense of meaning as above all problematic and elusive helped Coppola to introduce into his film a questioning of its own processes which rescued it from some of the simplistic or ideologically blind features of many Vietnam war films. In particular, it led the film to engage fruitfully if uncertainly with the issues raised by the very project of the representation of war: the complicity of the spectator, the problem of the aestheticisation of violence, the problem of communicability itself. In making this argument we draw on the miasma of inter-texts which surrounds Apocalypse Now like a Conradian ‘misty halo’: these include, not only Heart of Darkness itself, but Eleanor Coppola’s film Hearts of Darkness and her book Notes on the Making of Apocalypse Now, as well as Dispatches, the documentary narrative about Vietnam by Michael Herr, who wrote the voice-over narrative for Coppola’s film.