Black Humor on the Film Screen: From Folk to Popular Culture

  • Lada Stevanović Institute of Ethnography SASA, Belgrade
Keywords:
laughter, death, black humor, popular culture, film

Abstract

The paper is dealing with the complex phenomenon of black humor. Starting from different definitions about its origin, the author questions its folklore origin in Greek antiquity. Through the prism of the theories of Olga Freidneberg and Michael Bakhtin, parody and/or carneval appear as a worldview contrary and at the same time parallel to the serious, official, hierarchical order. Exactly this image of the world, and conceptualization of death on its grounds, lead in ancient Greece to the appearance of the theatre and comedy, that is regarded to be the predecessor of black film comedies. Pointing out the intertwinement of laughter and death, as well as the existence of black humor in the Greek antiquity, the author also deals with interesting connection between film black comedies and Serbian performative ritual games with motives of death and the dead. Such motives and the atmosphere that they provoke are easily recognized in the Serbian black comedies. As an example, i.e. a case study is taken the film Marathon Family. Apart from that, the paper offers an insight into the theoretical approaches to the phenomenon of black humor in literature and film, which opens the space to trace two more intertwined paths of influence on the mentioned black comedies. One path is literary and goes back to comedies by Branislav Nušić - The bereaved family and The deceased, while the other leads to the whole genre of films with the dark humour that has developed since the 1960s in Europe and the USA.  In spite of the undoubtable influences, the short insight into the subgenres of dark humour in the mentioned films reveals the specificity of the black humor in the Serbian cinematography that might be related to folk humoristic games with the motive of death.  

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Published
2020-01-05
How to Cite
Stevanović, Lada. 2020. “Black Humor on the Film Screen: From Folk to Popular Culture”. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 14 (4), 1187–1201. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/eap.v14i4.6.