Mapping Pawel Pawlikowski and Last Resort

Kristensen, Lars Lyngsgaard Fjord (2012) Mapping Pawel Pawlikowski and Last Resort. Studies in Eastern European Cinema, 3 (1). ISSN 2040-350X

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This article looks at the British-Polish film-maker Pawel Pawlikowski and his film Last Resort (2000). It argues that the film-maker and the film’s main protagonist are prime examples of a postcommunist condition, which has manifested itself since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Drawing on the Bourdieuian concept of ‘cultural capital’, the author claims that Pawlikowski, although a hybrid film-maker, should be considered as a British director, with his cinematic capital bound up in the liturgy of Eastern Europe, particularly Russia. By choosing Margate for his film, Pawlikowski aligns himself alongside iconic film-makers like Lindsay Anderson. Moreover, through this seaside town, he is able to evoke a sense of British decline, which in Pawlikowski’s film melts into an ‘Eastern Europe’ on the coastal fringe of Britain. In Pawlikowski’s film, Margate becomes an example of the postcommunist condition through its abundance of migration, grey housing blocks, surveillance and social misery. If the film-maker is successful in gaining recognition for his cinematic capital as an insider of postcommunism, then his leading heroine fails in her quest for happiness and love in Britain partly because her cultural capital is not recognized. The postcommunist condition is most tangible in Tanya’s migration; however, Alfie, Tanya’s British suitor and saviour, is also part of this global condition, which has engulfed the old Cold War divide. In Last Resort, both East and West function to exhibit a shared postcommunist condition.

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