Philosophy of Film

Edited by Clotilde Torregrossa (University of St. Andrews)
About this topic
Summary

"Philosophy of Film" is often used to describe a few different kinds of work. Two are most important. We should distinguish between philosophy in or through film, and the philosophy of or about film. When one does philosophy through film, one seeks to either illuminate some philosophical idea or to make progress on some philosophical issue through a discussion of a movie. One might even attribute the philosophical work to the film. We might call this philosophy in film. In contrast, the philosophy of film is the philosophy about film.  It asks about the nature of film, our experience of it, how it works its magic on us, and what limitations it might have. The analytic philosophy of film is principally issue driven. One of the issues concerns the philosophical limits of film, whether philosophy in film is possible. This mid-level category is home to both kinds of work, philosophy through film and the philosophy of film.

Key works

Carroll's Philosophy of Motion Pictures and Gaut's A Philosophy of Cinematic Art are two leading monographs offering opposing views on a wide range of issue in the analytic philosophy of film.

Introductions

Livingston and Plantinga's Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film is by far the best source for survey articles on topics and figures in the area. Thomson-Jones's Aesthetics and Film provides a clear, brief introduction to several important topics in the area.

Related

Contents
5223 found
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  1. Sensitive Aesthetics of Jean-Luc Nancy and Moving Images.Kamil Lipiński & Zsolt Gyenge (eds.) - forthcoming - Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
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  2. Subjectivity in Film: Mine, Yours, and No One’s.Sara Aronowitz & Grace Helton - 2024 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 11.
    A classic and fraught question in the philosophy of film is this: when you watch a film, do you experience yourself in the world of the film, observing the scenes? In this paper, we argue that this subject of film experience is sometimes a mere impersonal viewpoint, sometimes a first-personal but unindexed subject, and sometimes a particular, indexed subject such as the viewer herself or a character in the film. We first argue for subject pluralism: there is no single answer (...)
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  3. The Unconscious with Bond and Lacan: Definition by Deviation.Rafael Holmberg - 2023 - Bright Lights Film Journal.
    This article argues that the paradox of James Bond’s character (that he accords with the idea he represents precisely by deviating from it) is central to a Lacanian understanding of the unconscious (which is considered as a form of disjunctive synthesis – a logical operation that allows conflicting realities to coexist). The Lacanian unconscious is the site on which the possibility for a paradoxical character like James Bond can be framed. This requires a review of both various Bond moments and (...)
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  4. Chiara Quaranta (2023). Iconoclasm in European Cinema: The Ethics and Aesthetics of Image Destruction.Francesco Sticchi - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):395-399.
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  5. Home Movies as Reliquaries of Memory: A Phenomenological Perspective.Lourdes Esqueda Verano - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):350-374.
    If film immortalises the ephemeral and presentifies the past, this is especially true of home movies, whose content is not the result of a narrative composition or an invention of fiction, but the product of fragments of reality. These three categories – fiction, documentary, and the home movie – have been analysed by Jean-Pierre Meunier and Vivian Sobchack, with an emphasis on the effect that each film mode can have on the spectator, eliciting a particular emotional and cognitive response. But (...)
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  6. Nietzschean Themes in Béla Tarr's The Turin Horse.Paolo Stellino - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):226-247.
    Béla Tarr's last feature film The Turin Horse (2011) begins with a prologue that narrates Friedrich Nietzsche's mental breakdown in Turin in 1889, which was allegedly prompted by his witnessing a cab driver brutally whipping his horse. Nietzsche's name is not mentioned again in the film, and the viewer is left wondering what connection, if any, exists between the Nietzsche story and the film's narrative. Scholars often refer to one or another aspect of Nietzsche's philosophy when analysing Tarr's film. Yet, (...)
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  7. Daniel Mourenza (2020). Walter Benjamin and the Aesthetics of Film.Hyojin Yoon - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):405-408.
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  8. Even the Sea is Broken: Return and Loss in Razan AlSalah’s Video Works.Samira Makki - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):248-268.
    This article probes the ways in which returning to Palestine is imagined in Razan AlSalah’s two video works Your Father Was Born 100 Years Old, and So Was the Nakba (2018) and Canada Park (2020). In foregrounding the refusal of configurations substantiated by state concessions and normalisation treaties, the article treats loss as central to the manifold rehearsals of return. In AlSalah’s work, loss is understood not as becoming less, but rather as a proposition for becoming otherwise. Here, the practice (...)
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  9. Every Wholly Other: Postsecular Pluralism in Isabel Rocamora's Faith.Mark Cauchi - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):269-293.
    In this article, I undertake a close reading of Isabel Rocamora's 2015 film installation Faith, which shows, on three separate screens, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim men simultaneously performing their morning prayers in three distinct, historically significant sites in the Judean desert. Setting the cinematic and installation properties of the work into dialogue with a number of philosophers (Levinas, Derrida, Cavell), film theorists (Bazin, Deleuze, Chion), and art theorists (Fried, Elkins), I argue that it adopts a postsecular approach to religious pluralism. (...)
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  10. David Martin-Jones (2022). Columbo: Paying Attention 24/7.Timna Rauch - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):400-404.
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  11. When the Wind Is Gently Rustling: Film and the Aesthetics of Natural Beauty.Julian Hanich - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):153-180.
    While experiencing natural beauty is a key appeal of the cinema and other moving-image media, academic film scholarship has rarely paid attention to it. In this article I will use the widespread motif of the gently rustling wind as a pars pro toto to make some general remarks about the experience of natural beauty in film. I will first note the firm place of the motif of the rustling wind in film theoretical debates from the late 19th century until today. (...)
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  12. Chelsea Birks (2021). Limit Cinema: Transgression and the Nonhuman in Contemporary Global Film. Augustin - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):409-412.
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  13. Anima(l) Moralia, or Righteous Anger: Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor.Elżbieta Ostrowska - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):202-225.
    Agnieszka Holland’s Spoor (Pokot, 2017), an adaptation of Olga Tokarczuk’s novel Drive Your Plough Over the Bones of the Dead (2009), tells the story of an old woman, Janina Duszejko (Agnieszka Mandat), who advocates for animal rights and uses every measure to fight the local hunting culture. Due to the centrality of the relationship between human beings and the world of nature, Holland’s film refers to the recent debates aimed at de-centralizing the human subject. This article will argue, however, that (...)
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  14. Blue Boys: Maurice Pialat, Nicolas Poussin and the Work of Art.David A. Gerstner - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):322-349.
    Maurice Pialat (1925–2003) in his Libération article “Éloge de Poussin” (1987) tells us that cinema has made no progress since the Lumière brothers’ first projected images. Provocatively, he informs his readers that only painting has progressed and, as such, remains the far more innovative art form. For all the pointed remarks directed with some force towards French film critics and filmmakers, Pialat’s short notes in Libé offer us something more. It is one of the few opportunities to consider the auteur’s (...)
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  15. New Materialist Freedom in Chloé Zhao's Nomadland.Randy Laist - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):181-201.
    In Chloé Zhao's 2020 film Nomadland, Fern's commitment to eschewing a geolocalizable “home” uproots her from conventional patterns of domesticity and transforms her into an inhabitant of planet earth as a whole, enabling a new way of thinking about identity, environment, and the nature of human freedom. The kind of freedom that Fern's narrative evokes stands in deliberate contrast to the masculinized, heroic style of freedom that American films have done so much to promulgate. In contrast to this conventional representation (...)
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  16. The Filter and the Viewer: On Audience Discretion in Film Noir.Steven G. Smith - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):375-394.
    To the French critics who originally labelled certain films noir it seemed that a class of Hollywood products had gone darker during the war years – as though a dark filter had been placed over the lens. Films were not designed or marketed as noir, and retrospectively noir's status as a genre is still unsettled. Yet there is widespread interest today in experiencing diverse films as noir, and even in using a Noir Filter in Instagram and video games. Pursuing the (...)
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  17. Inauthenticity as a Disruption of Neoliberal Resilience Discourse in Brady Corbet's Vox Lux.Alice Pember - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (2):294-321.
    Brady Corbet's Vox Lux (2018) depicts school shooting survivor Celeste's transformation into a singing superstar, connecting the trauma of a terrorist attack to the phenomenon of musical celebrity. In so doing, the film narrativises the relationship between the pop singer and neoliberal resilience discourse that has been explored by music philosopher Robin James. Mobilising Jacques Rancière's definition of political art, this article suggests that, rather than endorsing the resilience that it depicts, the film formally critiques the neoliberal function of pop (...)
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  18. Why not realize your world?William Rothman Interviewed by Jeffrey Crouse - 2019 - In William Rothman (ed.), Tuitions and intuitions: essays at the intersection of film criticism and philosophy. Albany: SUNY Press.
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  19. The eye of the cinematograph: Levinas and realisms of the body.Keyvan Manafi - 2023 - Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
    Explores the encounter between Emmanuel Levinas' ethical thought and aesthetic realisms of the body.
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  20. Kono jiyūna sekai to watashitachi no kaeru basho.Shintarō Kōno - 2023 - Tōkyō-to Chiyoda-ku: Seidosha.
    感情の取り締まり(ポリシング)、トランス排除、宗教右派からポストトゥルースまで。透徹した思考に貫かれた論考群。.
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  21. Biopolitical ethics in global cinema.Seung-Hoon Jeong - 2023 - New York, NY: Oxford University Press.
    This book is a critical attempt to approach world cinema in a new global frame that updates the national frame of territorial cinemas and the transnational frame of their interplay. The global frame implies the reintegration of border-crossing forces onto the postpolitical plane of troubled globalization with two ethical facets: the soft ethical inclusion of differences in multicultural, neoliberal systems and their hard ethical symptoms of fundamentalist exclusion and terror. Reflecting both, global cinema is formulated as staging crucial challenges that (...)
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  22. al-Sīnimā wa-al-maʻná al-mītāfīzīqī lil-ṣūrah.ʻAzīz Ḥaddādī - 2023 - al-Qāhirah: Dār Ruʼyah lil-Nashr wa-al-Tawzīʻ.
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  23. Unhomed: cycles of mobility and placelessness in American cinema.Pamela Robertson Wojcik - 2024 - Oakland, California: University of California Press.
    In this rich cultural history, Pamela Robertson Wojcik examines America's ambivalent and shifting attitude toward homelessness through a close study of film cycles from five distinct historical moments that show characters as unhomed and placeless, mobile rather than fixed: failing, resisting, or opting out of the mandate for a home of one's own. From the tramp films of the Silent Era to the Oscar-winning Nomadland in 2021, Wojcik shows how film cycles reveal a tension in the American imaginary between viewing (...)
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  24. Cinematic encounters with disaster: realisms for the Anthropocene.Simon R. Troon - 2024 - New York: Bloomsbury Academic.
    This book takes Hollywood's disaster movies and their codified versions of natural disaster, post-apocalyptic survival, and extra-terrestrial threat as the starting point for an analytical trajectory toward new understandings of how cinema shapes and informs our conceptions of disaster and catastrophe. This book examines a range of films from distinct regional and industrial contexts: Hollywood, indie movies, different kinds of documentaries, and auteurist-realist cinema. Moving across and beyond critical and industrial categories that inform thinking about cinema, it contends that different (...)
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  25. The othering of women in silent film: cultural, historical, and literary contexts.Barbara Tepa Lupack - 2023 - Lanham: Lexington Books/Fortress Academic.
    In The Othering of Women in Silent Film: Cultural, Historical, and Literary Contexts, Barbara Tepa Lupack explores the rampant racial and gender stereotyping in early cinema and demonstrates how that imagery helped shape American attitudes and practices.
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  26. Interactive cinema: the ambiguous ethics of media participation.Marina Hassapopoulou - 2024 - Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Interactive Cinema explores cinematic practices that work to transform what is often seen as a receptive activity into a participatory, multimedia experience. Combining cutting-edge theory with updated conventional film studies methodologies, Marina Hassapopoulou presses at the conceptual limits of cinema and offers an essential road map to the rapidly evolving landscape of contemporary media.
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  27. An epistemology of criminological cinema.David Grčki - 2024 - New York, NY: Routledge. Edited by Rafe McGregor.
    Standing at the intersection of criminology and philosophy, this book demonstrates the ways in which mythic movies and television series can provide understanding of actual crimes and social harms. Taking three social problems as its subjects - capitalist political economy, structural injustice, and racism - the book explores the ways in which David Fincher's Fight Club (1999), HBO's Game of Thrones (2011-2019), and Jordan Peele's Us (2019) offer solutions by reconceiving justice in terms of personal and collective transformation, utopian thinking, (...)
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  28. Stardust: cinematic archives at the end of the world.Hannah Goodwin - 2024 - Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
    Tracing the many aesthetic, philosophical, and technological parallels between cinema and astronomy, Hannah Goodwin demonstrates how filmmakers have used cosmic imagery and themes to respond to the twentieth century's moments of existential dread. As our outlook on the future continues to change, Stardust illuminates the promise of cinema to bear witness to humanity's fragile existence within the vast expanse of the universe.
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  29. Is Harpo free?: and other essays on the metaphysical screen.Matthew Cipa - 2024 - Albany: State University of New York Press.
    Examines how philosophical concepts like free will, personal identity, and goodness are given an artistic life in films and television programs.
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  30. Sport, film, and the modern world: aesthetics, ethics, environments.Neil Archer - 2024 - NewYork: Peter Lang.
    This book rethinks the discussion of sport as a cinematic subject. Arguing for the vitality of the sports film as distinctively 'modern' genre, the book looks at its innovative potential to capture twentieth- and twenty-first-century sport in all its complexity. Written in an accessible style and illustrated throughout, the book integrates work and ideas from film studies with thinking from sports psychology, philosophy, data theory and ecocriticism. In its detailed analyses of a wide-ranging group of films, the book shows how (...)
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  31. The ethics of horror: spectral alterity in twenty-first century horror film.Michael Joseph Burke - 2024 - Lanham: Lexington Books.
    This book examines spectral haunting through the philosophies of Levinas and Derrida. Arguing that moral obligation can appear terrifying to the complacent self, the text interrogates ethical responsibility in contemporary horror genres.
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  32. Kulʹtura kino: perevod s nemet︠s︡kogo.Béla Balázs - 1925 - Moskva: Gosudarstvennoe izdatelʹstvo.
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  33. Kino i dukhovnoe obogashchenie lichnosti.Mukhsin Aliev - 1989 - Tashkent: Uzbekistan.
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  34. Chʻŏrhak ŭro yŏnghwa pogi, yŏnghwa ro chʻorhak hagi.Yŏng-min Kim - 1994 - Sŏul: Chʻŏrhak kwa Hyŏnsilsa.
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  35. Ficta and Virtuality: An Ingardenian Ontology of Virtualized Ficta.Hicham Jakha - forthcoming - Rivista di Estetica:1-16.
    In my paper, I establish an Ingardenian phenomenological ontology of virtualized ficta, i.e., fictional entities introduced to virtual gaming. The first Section of my paper provides an ontology of virtualized ficta, focusing primarily on their ‘‘existential moments’’. But in order to have a firm grasp of the ontological aspects grounding the virtual work, it’s important to engage its strata. This is what I attempt to do in Section 1.2. Virtualized ficta’s intentional dependencies are strongly manifest in what I call the (...)
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  36. Memento.Andrew Kania - 2008 - In Paisley Livingston & Carl Plantinga (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Film. Routledge.
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  37. Fondus enchaînés: essais de poétique du cinéma.Marc Cerisuelo - 2012 - Paris: Éditions du Seuil.
    Le cinéma est à plus d'un titre un art des relations : on ne comprend pleinement un film qu'en le situant dans l'histoire des formes (genre, série, reprise), dans celui de la pensée qu'il engendre chez le spectateur-philosophe (chacun de nous dans nos bons moments), ou dans l'étude de la mise en contact d'aires culturelles distinctes (la présence des Européens à Hollywood, par exemple). Ainsi, la poétique historique des films, la " cinéphilosophie " et l'approche du cinéma en termes de (...)
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  38. Editor's Introduction.Laura T. Di Summa - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:3-5.
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  39. Craig Fox & Britt Harrison, editors, Philosophy of Film Without Theory.Alexis Gibbs - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:135-139.
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  40. Joshua Heter and Richard Greene, editors, The Godfather and Philosophy: An Argument You Can’t Refute.Peter Vernezze - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:131-133.
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  41. Stop-Motion Animation’s Object Substitutions and Non-Depictive Representation.Andrea Marie Comiskey - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:111-129.
    This article explores a distinctive representational strategy used in stop-motion animation: the object substitution. Using as its central example a children’s TV episode in which brushes stand in for dogs, it explains how this strategy produces a complex relationship between depiction and representation. The analysis highlights the pragmatic underpinnings of various theories of pictorial and cinematic representation, arguing that, in a substitution, depicted elements constitute explicatures and represented ones implicatures. Connecting this strategy to humans’ capacity for pareidolia (seeing things in (...)
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  42. Murdoch's Caring Gaze and "My Octopus Teacher".Thomas E. Wartenberg - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:71-89.
    In her essay “The Idea of Perfection,” Iris Murdoch argues that sustained attention directed towards another can result in a person’s moral improvement by getting them to have a more accurate view of the other. In this essay, I argue that the award-winning film My Octopus Teacher illustrates Murdoch’s view and corrects some of its shortcomings. It illustrates Murdoch’s claim by showing how one of the filmmaker’s sustained attention directed at an octopus results not only in an alternation in the (...)
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  43. Taking Feminist Pornography Seriously.Georgie Malone - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:19-37.
    It has been argued that an adequate feminist response to sexist pornography demands not just efforts to eradicate sexist beliefs, but also aesthetic counter-intervention at the level of taste. This view motivates support for feminist pornography. This paper takes the feminist pornography suggestion seriously by unpacking difficulties for the project. I begin by spelling out two views about what makes feminist pornography feminist: the ‘content view,’ and the ‘context view,’ and discuss what I take to be existing arguments for the (...)
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  44. The Tragedy of the Knight of Faith.Francesco Sticchi & Silvia Liliana Angeli - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:91-110.
    The cinema of Martin Scorsese has been analysed in connection with a wide range of themes and issues. In this paper, through a film-philosophical analysis, we aim to demonstrate how his filmography produces storyworlds pervaded by a tension similar to the one Søren Kierkegaard expressed in his existentialist writings. Indeed, one of the tenets of film-philosophy is that audio-visual media generate, in an affective and experiential manner, complex moral and ethical systems and existential viewpoints with which viewers interact in a (...)
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  45. A Reflection of the Sun ( ).Sydney Harvey - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:1-18.
    This paper explores a philosophical argument about the use of natural light in films. I argue that directors use sunlight as a visual metaphor to induce a sublime experience from the viewer to elevate the narrative. While it is more efficient in terms of time management and finances to use electric lights, sunlight creates a successful emotional effect on the viewer placing them in contemplation of the relationship between humanity, nature, and humility. Essentially, I am concerned with what it is (...)
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  46. Racialized Disgust and the Depiction of Native Americans in the Ranown Cycle Westerns.Dan Flory - 2024 - Film and Philosophy 28:39-69.
    This article explores mainstream audience reactions concerning race and how they intersect with late 1950s Westerns known as the Ranown cycle. Synthesizing ideas from critical philosophy of race, philosophy of film, cognitive film theory, and philosophy of emotion, I analyze how these films elicit racialized reactions of sociomoral disgust toward Native American characters. Because such responses are not ordinarily processed through higher-level forms of cognition, I argue that these embodied, affective, implicit reactions are key to understanding how films like those (...)
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  47. In the Mood for Heideggerian Boredom? Film Viewership as Being-in-the-World.Chiara Quaranta - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (1):31-46.
    In this article, I engage with Shawn Loht’s argument concerning film viewing as being-in-the-world, developed in his book Phenomenology of Film: A Heideggerian Account of the Film Experience (2017), focusing on the aesthetics of mood with particular attention to boredom. I elaborate on a phenomenological ontology of the film experience and its perceptual “rules” which hinge on aesthetic choices: what kind of world does the film open up for the viewer? Loht’s account of viewing Dasein enables us to deepen phenomenological (...)
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  48. Response to Critical Views of Phenomenology of Film.Shawn Loht - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (1):113-130.
    This article responds to critical views of John Rhym, Martin Rossouw, Ludo de Roo, and Annie Sandrussi on my 2017 book Phenomenology of Film: A Heideggerian Account of the Film Experience. The article also takes up positive footholds from the analyses of Chiara Quaranta and Jason Wirth. The main topics addressed include Martin Heidegger’s ontic-ontological distinction; the notion of film-as-philosophy; being-in-the-world read as being-in-the-film-world; and questions surrounding the facticity and identity of the film viewer.
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  49. Reflexive Wonderings: Prospects and Parameters of a Heideggerian Approach to Film as Philosophy.Martin P. Rossouw - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (1):47-61.
    This response article addresses the conception of “film as philosophy” developed by Shawn Loht in his book Phenomenology of Film: A Heideggerian Account of the Film Experience (2017), with specific attention to the relevance and implications of Loht's approach for the broader debate beyond a strictly Heideggerian film-philosophy. The article proceeds in three distinct takes. The first take examines Loht's later-Heideggerian inspirations, arguing that although these more fundamental notions of philosophy open significant possibilities for film as philosophy, they nevertheless run (...)
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  50. Dasein and the Question of the Heterogenous Film Viewer: A Commentary on Loht’s Heideggerian Phenomenology of Film.Annie Sandrussi - 2024 - Film-Philosophy 28 (1):62-78.
    In response to Shawn Loht’s 2017 project delineating a Heideggerian phenomenology of film, Phenomenology of Film: A Heideggerian Account of the Film Experience, I examine how productive Loht’s Dasein-centric account of the film viewer might be for considering diverse film-viewer experiences. Starting from Loht’s premise that the film–viewer relation is the constitutive ground of filmic disclosure, I raise two concerns regarding Heidegger’s account of Dasein that might obscure an account of the diversity of film viewers and associated heterogeneity of filmic (...)
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