Cinema Balkanica in Early 20th Century – An Amalgam of Western and Regional Modernities Cover Image
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Cinema Balkanica im frühen 20. Jahrhundert – ein Amalgam westlicher und regionaler Modernen
Cinema Balkanica in Early 20th Century – An Amalgam of Western and Regional Modernities

Author(s): Karl Kaser
Subject(s): Cultural Essay, Political Essay, Societal Essay

Summary/Abstract: One of the most significant challenges of an historical anthropology of the visual with regard to Balkan countries has to be seen in the study and analysis of the amalgamous concurrence of various forms of Balkan visual cultures and those of ‘the West’ in the second half of the 19th and in the first half of the 20th century. This was the period when processes of secularization intensified in the Balkans, and Western visual modernity became an alternative to previously religiously coined ways of seeing. This was especially the case with the early popular media of photography and cinema. My article focuses on the short period of time between the first film presentations in the region (1896) to the outbreak of the Balkan Wars (1912-13) because these 16 years were the formative ones of Cinema Balkanica. The initial two sections look at the appearances of the mobile and the permanent cinema in the Balkans, the third one focuses at the urban population by asking whether or not it was already affected by a ‘culture of modern life’ and therefore prepared for the new visual adventure of the cinema. The fourth section investigates the emerging European cinema business and the role of the Balkans in it. One of the article’s conclusions is that early cinema met the Balkans unprepared, although the auditory was already familiar with cinema-like visual pleasures such as the theatre or the panopticon. However, mobile cinema-shows were almost exclusively organized by foreigners from Central Europe, France or Italy; the technical equipment for the establishment of permanent cinemas as well as cameras had to be purchased in Western countries and also cameramen and film projectionists had to be hired abroad. In other words: Western technology and technicians amalgamated with expectations and desires of regional cinemagoers and actors.

  • Issue Year: 2015
  • Issue No: 1
  • Page Range: 163-180
  • Page Count: 18
  • Language: German