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


Historical and political films offer a unique perspective on
the relationship between distance and proximity: based in 
chronological 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past, or out-of-date back into the here-and-now of the present 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.


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DOI: 10.14324/111.2057-2212.025


Hispanic Studies, French Studies, Semprun, Resnais, Communism, Film

How to Cite

Tynan, A., (2015) “The Illusion of Distance and the Spectre of Proximity in the Films of Jorge Semprun”, Tropos 2(1).







Avril Tynan (Royal Holloway University of London)




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