Haunted by a House of Memory – 1st part

“As a house of moving pictures, film is as habitable as the house we live in.” (Guiliana Bruno)

Tereza collage smaller

Storyboard/ mood sheet for Melusine, 2010 (dir. Tereza Stehlikova)

During the process of my PhD research I came to realise that I was haunted by certain tenacious memories from my childhood, and in particular by the house of my growing up (which is in Prague, on the river Vltava). I wanted to make a short film about this house and its haunting.

Over and over again I have felt the need to return there in my work, in order to try and exorcise its power over me. By revisiting some of these familiar locations of my childhood, I was hoping to reactivate the original bond between my own early experience of these places while also drawing on their powerful tangible presence, and the embodied memory they store.

In order to access the archetypal significance and the haunting qualities of the house of my childhood, I decided to concentrate on Bachelard’s depiction of the oneiric house, which he describes as both a physical place, a building made of bricks, stone and mortar, while at the same time being a container constructed out of daydreams and memories. Bachelard argues that it is precisely because the house is a living value that this forceful opposition can be sustained, and indeed makes sense. Moreover, it is through this very contradiction that the oneiric house gains its power over us: “the house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind. The binding principle in this integration is the daydream. Past, present and the future give the house different dynamism, which often interfere, at times opposing, at others, stimulating one another.”


Still from Melusine, 2010 (dir. Tereza Stehlikova)

The first step towards erecting the oneiric house was to compile some of the key memories from my childhood which centred on the house. Re-evaluating these memories, it soon became apparent that the pivotal line of the investigation, the core narrative, was in fact the staircase of the house itself, which is a spiral and therefore carries powerful symbolism. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) it was on this staircase that my earliest identifiable memory took place, a fact that reinforced the staircase’s ability to function as both a poetic metaphor of the spine of my own being (“But what a spiral a man’s being represents!” as well as time, while providing the physical set for the film.

MEMORY for exam

Still from Melusine, 2010 (dir. Tereza Stehlikova)

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