War memory
: the representation of traumatic memories in animated documentaries

  • Margarida Maria Laranjeira Rocha (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


The vast visual realm of Animation enables us to create alternate worlds and penetrate intangible dimensions of reality - specifically, the mind. In this dissertation, we aim to understand Animation’s cathartic role and relevance in the representation of Memory and Trauma in Animated Documentaries. Our research focuses on War and the collateral damage it inflicts not just on those directly involved, but also on later generations. As such, we delve into the notion of Cultural Memory/Cultural Trauma and Marianne Hirsch’s concept of Postmemory, which essentially refers to an inherited memory, the product of witnessing the further impacts of trauma. In an attempt to better understand these concepts, we examine the representation of War Memory through the ages in the Visual Arts, finally reaching Comics and Animation. We analyse four animated documentaries: Silence (Bringas and Yadin, 1998), I Was a Child of Holocaust Survivors (Fleming, 2010), Persepolis (Satrapi and Paronnaud, 2007) and Waltz with Bashir (Folman, 2008). We focus on the role of testimony and the discursive voice that accompanies the visual narratives. Moreover, we observe different perspectives of War, indicating and comparing the position of the narrator in these films. In each film in our analysis, we identify strategies which allow war trauma to become approachable and memories to be exteriorized. We discuss the strategy of masking, both as a form of simplification and concealment, relating it, when relevant, to Paul Well’s and Anabelle Honess Roe’s proposals of other narrative/ representational strategies. We elaborate on these strategies, in order to illustrate Animation’s compatibility to the act of remembering. Finally, we classify the animated documentaries of our analysis within pre-established documentary modes.
Date of Award4 Mar 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorSahra Kunz (Supervisor) & Ekaterina Cordas (Co-Supervisor)


  • War memory
  • Cultural trauma
  • Postmemory
  • Animated documentary
  • Masking
  • Animation strategies


  • Mestrado em Som e Imagem

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