Marek Paryz (University of Warsaw), “Unwanted Salvation: The Use of the Savior Formula in Andreas Prochaska’s The Dark Valley (2014)”

Réalisation : 16 novembre 2018 Mise en ligne : 16 novembre 2018
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The Austrian film The Dark Valley (dir. Andreas Prochaska, 2014) provides a uniqueattestation to the applicability of the convention of the Western forproblematizing context-specific social and cultural issues. The film featuresan American man named Greider who arrives at a godforsaken Austrian villagelocated in the mountains. As it turns out later, he comes there to avenge thefather who had been killed before his birth. The village community isterrorized by the Brenner family, the descendants of the village’s founders.The Brenner patriarch and his sons follow very special rules regarding nuptialceremonies: on the wedding night, every bride, instead of consummating themarriage with her husband, comes off with the Brenner clan. They execute theirprivilege with utmost relentlessness and allow no exceptions. On one suchoccasion, Greider stands up against the Brenners and successfully defends anewly married couple. This confrontation will eventually culminate in a bloodyshootout. This paper discusses the ways in which The Dark Valley employs narrative scripts of the Western genre soas to showcase a particular kind of cultural experience. The film combines arevenge plot with a savior formula, foregrounding the ways in which therevenger’s intervention helps to eliminate the source of oppression and restorea moral order within the oppressed community. An anticipated positive change ofthe community’s life redeems the revenger’s egoistical motivation. However, in The Dark Valley the narratives of revengeand salvation ultimately diverge because the villagers, on the whole, are farfrom being grateful for the help offered by Greider. They are all, in one senseor another, former victims who have failed to prevent the terror sanctioned bythe local tradition, and their passiveness is virtually tantamount tocomplicity. The logic of the savior formula thus becomes undone, underminingthe moral sanction of revenge. Importantly, Greider’s interventionist actionexpresses not only an personal craving, but also a sense of culturalsuperiority, even if the protagonist does not manifest this in any discernibleway. Being an American, Greider embodies the far-reaching forces ofglobalization and technological advancement, as contrasted with a local,self-contained culture; and this difference has been most symbolicallyreflected by the respective weapons used by Greider and his opponents (therepeating rifle vs. the breechloading rifle).


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Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 Site Saint Charles
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Citer cette ressource:
EMMA. (2018, 16 novembre). Marek Paryz (University of Warsaw), “Unwanted Salvation: The Use of the Savior Formula in Andreas Prochaska’s The Dark Valley (2014)”. [Vidéo]. Canal-U. (Consultée le 19 août 2022)

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