Psychoanalysis and Historicism in Two Films From The Balkans: "The Goat Horn "(1972) And "Before The Rain"

Yana Hashamova, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

The ethnic and national differences as they have recently been manifested on the Balkans and illustrated in The Goat Horn and Before The Rain provoke the thoughts for this paper.

What is so strange and perplexing in the national conflicts in the Balkans? After the democratic changes of 1989 small South Slavic nations on the Balkans with almost identical ethnic origin, similar historical fate, and social economic development claim to be completely different from each other and to speak different languages. Is this a pathology of freedom?

Perceptions of national identity and religious difference presented in the two films create aggression and violence. Why is that? Why does difference beget violence, and even more so after 1989? Confronted with the moral command "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," Freud reacts in Civilization And Its Discontents with surprise and bewilderment--"Why should we...?" The Goat Horn and Before The Rain create a picture of hostility and aggression toward the other, the neighbor perceived as different. At the end of both films this aggression results in the destruction of one's own child, that is, in self-destruction.

According to Lacan, by means of the superego (the Law) aggression is introjected, internalized. When the Law (the authority) does not function properly, violence and aggression are projected outward, on the level of the Imaginary. Aggression, then, is directed toward the other, who is usually similar but perceived as different. Are the dynamics of national identity similar?

The paper will address the confrontation between two powerful modern discourses: psychoanalysis and historicism and will operate inside this confrontation by looking into a potential dialogue between film theory, psychoanalysis, and historicism.