An Officer and a Spy: Roman Polanski in the Benjaminian Interior

Jamrozik, Żaneta (2022) An Officer and a Spy: Roman Polanski in the Benjaminian Interior. Studies in Eastern European Cinema . pp. 1-22. ISSN 2040-350X

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Roman Polanski’s An Officer and a Spy (2019) represents France of La Belle Époque not through cafés, cabarets, and literary salons but as a military state of dilapidated army offices filled with half-asleep soldiers, dust, stink, and clouds of suspicion. The Third Republic seems suspended between its revolutionary past and the bleak present: the lost war with Germany and constant governmental scandals. The country recedes into the interior to try less grandeur methods like plotting, spying and surveillance. Polanski recounts the era through the Dreyfus Affair (1894-1906), treated not as a designed plot but as a logical outcome of the bureaucratic system of the state. I analyse An Officer and a Spy historically alongside Walter Benjamin’s writing on the interior. Benjamin’s interior is a complex space that can function as a protective space, a space of death or inertia, a space of history and action as well as a colonising space that brings together the far and the near through colonial objects and customs.

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