I studied English as an undergraduate at Emma and was able to return this year to pursue an MPhil in film and screen studies thanks to the generosity of donors to the Late 80s Fund and other Emma members. It’s been the most productive and rewarding period I can remember.
The course is wide-ranging: finding my path through it has been one of the challenges and pleasures of the year. I’m interested in bringing a practical criticism mentality – being precise and enthusiastic about form, with an interest in understanding films on their own terms – into my writing, and have also enjoyed borrowing ideas from philosophy and literary criticism, from Aristotle to Russian formalism and contemporary moral philosophy. In the Michaelmas term I wrote about film style and the Holocaust in relation to a film made by a fellow Hungarian, Son of Saul. Then, during the Lent term, I wrote about the dialectic in André Bazin’s film criticism, and about morality and spectatorship in Eric Rohmer’s Contes moraux. In my thesis I investigated film’s relationship to tragedy through Carl Th. Dreyer’s extraordinary late films.
I feel I’ve learned almost as much in Cambridge’s theatres as in its libraries this year. I’ve been involved in student film and theatre as much as I could in my spare time, and directed an adaptation of one of Ingmar Bergman’s films at the ADC in the Lent term. I plan to spend next year gaining some experience in professional film and TV production, as well continuing to work on my own projects, and then to apply to both PhD programmes and film school that autumn.
Emma’s community, aptly summed up in the wit and kindness of its porters, constitutes an important part of its charm. I’ve enjoyed returning to the squash courts, where (although I’m an unexceptional player) I’ve spent more – and more fulfilling – hours than in any other arena of sporting encounter. I am conscious of my debt to the college, to my remarkable thesis supervisor, David Trotter, and above all to the donors who have made this year possible.