Film-Philosophy 10 (3):26-37 (2006)

Robert Sinnerbrink
Macquarie University
In his 1979 foreword to The World Viewed, Stanley Cavell remarks on the curiousrelationship between Heidegger and cinema . Cavell is inspired to do so byTerrence Malick's Days of Heaven , a film that not only presents us with images ofpreternatural beauty, but also acknowledges the self-referential character of thecinematic image . For Cavell, Malick's films have a formal radiance thatsuggest something of Heidegger's thinking of the relationship between Being and beings,the radiant self-showing of things in luminous appearance . Days of Heaven doesindeed have a metaphysical vision of the world, but 'one feels that one has never quiteseen the scene of human existence-call it the arena between earth and heavenquite realized this way on film before' . As Cavell observes, however,the relationship between Heidegger's philosophy and Malick's films seems to challengeboth philosophers and film-theorists. The film-theorists struggle to show how Heidegger isrelevant to the experience of cinema, while the philosophers grapple with the question ofcinema and aesthetics, precisely because film puts into question traditional concepts ofvisual art, as Walter Benjamin showed long ago .In what follows, I take up Cavell's invitation to think about the relationshipbetween Heidegger and film by considering Malick's 1998 masterpiece, The Thin Red Line.The question I shall explore is whether we should describe The Thin Red Line as'Heideggerian Cinema'. Along the way I discuss two different approaches to the film: a'Heideggerian' approach that reads the film as exemplifying Heideggerian themes; and a 'film as philosophy' approach arguing that, while the film is philosophical, we should refrain from reading it in relation toany particular philosophical framework. In conclusion, I offer some brief remarks abouthow The Thin Red Line can be regarded as 'Heideggerian cinema,' not because we need toread Heidegger in order to understand it, but because Malick's film performs a cinematicpoesis, a revealing of world through image,sound, and word
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DOI 10.3366/film.2006.0027
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References found in this work BETA

Heidegger’s Philosophy of Art.D. E. Cooper - 2001 - Mind 110 (440):1133-1137.
Heidegger and the 'End of Art'.Robert Sinnerbrink - 2004 - Literature & Aesthetics 14 (1):89-109.

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Citations of this work BETA

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