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Theories of filmic reality

In formulating a notion of filmic reality, this book offers a novel way of understanding our relationship with cinema. It argues that cinema need not be understood in terms of its capacities to refer to, reproduce or represent reality, but should be understood in terms of the kinds of realities it has the ability to create. The book investigates filmic reality by way of six key film theorists: André Bazin, Christian Metz, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek and Jacques Rancière. In doing so, it provides comprehensive introductions to each of these thinkers, while also debunking many myths and misconceptions about them. Along the way, a notion of filmic reality is formed that radically reconfigures our understanding of cinema.

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Thomas Wartenberg

Film theorists and philosophers have both contended that narrative fiction films cannot present philosophical arguments. After canvassing a range of objections to this claim, this article defends the view that films are able to present philosophical thought experiments that can function as enthymemic arguments. An interpretation of Michel Gondry‘s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) is given in which the films criticism of the technology of memory erasure is just such a thought experiment, one that functions as a counter-example to utilitarianism as a theory for the justification of social practices.

Film Studies
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Mass and Propaganda. An Inquiry Into Fascist Propaganda (Siegfried Kracauer, 1936)
Nicholas Baer

Written in French exile, the following text by Siegfried Kracauer from December 1936 outlines a research project that the German-Jewish intellectual undertook with funding from the Institute for Social Research. The work outlined here would be a study of totalitarian propaganda in Germany and Italy through sustained comparison with communist and democratic countries, especially the Soviet Union and the United States. Appearing in English translation for the first time, this document from Kracauer‘s estate is crucial for a full understanding of his career as a sociologist, cultural critic, film theorist and philosopher, demonstrating the global scope of his engagement with cinema, mass culture and modernity.

Film Studies
Film theory’s foundation in medievalism
Bettina Bildhauer

While most chapters in this book are concerned with medieval film in the sense of films about the Middle Ages, this chapter shows that all films have been considered medieval by a surprisingly large number of influential film theorists. The argument they put forward is that film is so radically different and new that it is no longer just part of modern culture, but instead, in an apparent

in Medieval film
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James S. Williams

: his status as an auteur , his role and range as a collaborator; his commitment to experimentation; and his importance as a film theorist. We begin with a basic question: what type of filmmaker was Cocteau? Cocteau as auteur Cocteau is usually regarded as a ‘literary filmmaker’, part of a peculiarly French tradition of writers who also became innovatory filmmakers (see Michalczyk 1980 : 1–28). Godard

in Jean Cocteau
Jane Chin Davidson

for Chinese identification in the script-based cinematic form. The scholarship of film studies is usually ascribed to the literary discourse for this reason, which other film theorists, including Shu-mei Shih, have emphasized as their theoretical focus. Shih’s discussion on ‘Sinophonic articulation’ best defines the significance of speech and language in the representation of film, although she includes the visual arts in her description of Sinophonic ‘acts and practices of cultural production – naming, writing, making art.’17 In her book, Visuality and Identity

in Staging art and Chineseness
Griselda Pollock

an imaginary feminine body on the edge of both abjection and ecstasy. 18 Feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey aimed to interrupt the fetishistic and voyeuristic logic of the phallocentric culture encoded in the allegory of Pandora’s box by reclaiming this dark image of the dangerous beauty of woman as both a treacherous surface and a deadly, death-dealing interior. 19 She reformulates the myth to produce an epistemology and an aesthetics of feminine curiosity, a desire to know about the interiority, subjectivity and

in Killing Men & Dying Women
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Ian Aitken

, feminism, phenomenology, art history and ethnography, have also been drawn on by film theorists in recent years. In this process of connection with important intellectual disciplines and traditions, ‘classical’ realist film theory also has an important role to play, because the approaches developed by the classical realist theorists are directly linked to historically important traditions of thought, including those of Kant

in Realist film theory and cinema
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National cinema and unstable genres
Valentina Vitali

Introduction: national cinema and unstable genres In 1970 film theorists Paul Willemen and Claire Johnston wrote to Ian Cameron, founder of the British film journal Movie and, at the time, director of November Books, the publisher of the groundbreaking Movie Paperbacks series, proposing a book on Terence Fisher. Founded in 1962, Movie had elaborated an oppositional stand within and against film journalism by posing the question of critical method in relation to a practice that was then considered not to have artistic value: Hollywood cinema. As Willemen put it

in Capital and popular cinema
Rethinking art, media, and the audio-visual contract

There is no soundtrack is a specific yet expansive study of sound tactics deployed in experimental media art today. It analyses how audio and visual elements interact and produce meaning, drawing from works by contemporary media artists ranging from Chantal Akerman, to Nam June Paik, to Tanya Tagaq. It then links these analyses to discussions on silence, voice, noise, listening, the soundscape, and other key ideas in sound studies. In making these connections, the book argues that experimental media art – avant-garde film, video art, performance, installation, and hybrid forms – produces radical and new audio-visual relationships that challenge and destabilize the visually-dominated fields of art history, contemporary art criticism, cinema and media studies, and cultural studies as well as the larger area of the human sciences. This book directly addresses what sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne calls ‘visual hegemony’. It joins a growing body of interdisciplinary scholarship that is collectively sonifying the study of culture while defying the lack of diversity within the field by focusing on practitioners from transnational and diverse backgrounds. Therefore, the media artists discussed in this book are of interest to scholars and students who are exploring aurality in related disciplines including gender and feminist studies, queer studies, ethnic studies, postcolonial studies, urban studies, environmental analysis, and architecture. As such, There Is No Soundtrack makes meaningful connections between previously disconnected bodies of scholarship to build new, more complex and reverberating frameworks for the study of art, media, and sound.