Film Worlds: A Philosophical Aesthetics of Cinema
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Film Worlds unpacks the significance of the "worlds" that narrative films create, offering an innovative perspective on cinema as art. Drawing on aesthetics and the philosophy of art in both the continental and analytic traditions, as well as classical and contemporary film theory, it weaves together multiple strands of thought and analysis to provide new understandings of filmic representation, fictionality, expression, self-reflexivity, style, and the full range of cinema's affective and symbolic dimensions.
Always more than "fictional worlds" and "storyworlds" on account of cinema's perceptual, cognitive, and affective nature, film worlds are theorized as immersive and transformative artistic realities. As such, they are capable of fostering novel ways of seeing, feeling, and understanding experience. Engaging with the writings of Jean Mitry, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Christian Metz, David Bordwell, Gilles Deleuze, and Hans-Georg Gadamer, among other thinkers, Film Worlds extends Nelson Goodman's analytic account of symbolic and artistic "worldmaking" to cinema, expands on French philosopher Mikel Dufrenne's phenomenology of aesthetic experience in relation to films and their worlds, and addresses the hermeneutic dimensions of cinematic art. It emphasizes what both celluloid and digital filmmaking and viewing share with the creation and experience of all art, while at the same time recognizing what is unique to the moving image in aesthetic terms. The resulting framework reconciles central aspects of realist and formalist/neo-formalist positions in film theory while also moving beyond them and seeks to open new avenues of exploration in film studies and the philosophy of film.
realities in particular ways through the kinds of general processes that I have traced. But, this does not mean that they do so well or that the end result is particularly interesting, novel, or illuminating.38 As Goodman astutely observes on the subject of the endlessly renewed process of more interesting and enlightening cultural and artistic world-making, “while readiness to recognize alternative worlds may be liberating, and suggestive of new avenues of exploration, a willingness to welcome
originally Kantian perspective, then, the generic concept of the symbol, as already incorporating other sign types and functions, is not a reflection on pragmatic communication and its contexts, the ways and means of transferring and exchanging information among subjects per se. Rather, it is the (arguably) logically prior representation (or categorization) of the immediately given material of sensible experience. Also distinguishing it from the structuralist-semantic model, the “symbolic” in
Wild Strawberries, joining in lyrical fashion different spaces and times; or the surreal superimpositions of bodies and faces in Un chien andalou and Persona, and in the poignant marital confrontation staged through transparent/reflective glass in Paris, Texas, as all creating new composite, animate entities like those found in Max Ernst’s oneiric collages. Still on the level of the image and the edited sequence, matching cuts and rhyming compositions, notably present in the films of Ozu and
imaginations.30 Familiar forms of local, cognitive-diegetic emotion are generated through the capability of a film to virtually place the viewer in the temporal and spatial position of a character or even an inanimate object. Or, in contrast, it may follow from promptings in which we, as viewers, take up the position of an imaginary witness in the midst of the action in the perceptual and cognitive role of an unseen human, “ideal,” or “godlike” observer of story events. Not only through the
and world on the diegetic plane but to something about our lives and experience as viewers, or life in general—and do so in highly affective, feeling-generating fashion. For viewers attentive to it (and possessing the requisite extrawork knowledge and experience), the full and no doubt intended emotional power of Alex’s (Malcolm McDowell’s) assault on the writer and his wife in A Clockwork Orange, played out to the accompaniment of “Singin’ in the Rain,” derives not only from the visual,