Review of Paolo Cherchi-Usai _The Death of Cinema: History, Cultural Memory and the Digital Dark Age_ Preface by Martin Scorsese London: British Film Institute, 2001 ISBN 0851708374 (pb) 0851708382 (hb) 134 pp.
Cinema struggles with the representation of inner-speech and thought in a way that is less of a problem for literature. Film also destabilises the notion of the narrator, be they omniscient, unreliable or first-person. In this article I address the peculiar and highly unsuccessful cinematic innovation which we can call the ‘first-person camera’ or ‘first-person’ film. These are films in which the camera represents not just the point-of-view of a character but is meant to be understood as that character. Very (...) few such films have been made, and I will concentrate on the way in which speech and thought are presented in Lady in the Lake (Robert Montgomery, 1947) and Dark Passage (Delmer Daves, 1947). I use Jacques Derrida’s critique of the idea of ‘hearing oneself speak’ and phenomenology’s dream of direct experience to explore the generally understood failure of such films and conclude by considering the implications of such a technique for a homunculus theory of mind. (shrink)
Michael Haneke is one of the most important directors working in Europe today, with films such as Funny Games (1997), Code Unknown (2000), and Hidden (2005) interrogating modern ethical dilemmas with forensic clarity and merciless insight. Haneke's films frequently implicate both the protagonists and the audience in the making of their misfortunes, yet even in the barren nihilism of The Seventh Continent (1989) and Time of the Wolf (2003) a dark strain of optimism emerges, releasing each from its terrible and (...) inescapable guilt. It is this contingent and unlikely possibility that we find in Haneke's cinema: a utopian Europe. This collection celebrates, explicates, and sometimes challenges the worldview of Haneke's films. It examines the director's central themes and preoccupations--bourgeois alienation, modes and critiques of spectatorship, the role of the media--and analyzes otherwise marginalized aspects of his work, such as the function of performance and stardom, early Austrian television productions, the romanticism of The Piano Teacher (2001), and the 2007 shot-for-shot remake of Funny Games. (shrink)
In this article I explore a tantalising definition of cinematic belief as a belief without belief by briefly considering the way in which film theory and film-philosophy have engaged with the question of belief in cinema. I also take into account Simon Critchley’s discussion of religious belief in The Faith of the Faithless (2012) within the context of anthropological studies of religion such as that by Émile Durkheim. In addition, I discuss Sigmund Freud’s 1927 reflection on religion in “The Future (...) of an Illusion”. I then show that this line of thought can be linked to the philosophical discussion around the so-called paradox of fiction and introduce the idea that belief can be understood itself as an emotion or mood. I argue in favour of the solution to the paradox that claims that emotions experienced in response to fictional entities are quasi-emotions but radicalise this claim by showing that this must imply that all emotions are in fact structured like quasi-emotions and that we do not require an essentialist understanding of emotion in the first place. Throughout I use the example of the various cinematic representations of the life of St Francis to flesh out the argument, including Roberto Rossellini’s Francesco, giullare di Dio / Francesco, God’s Jester / The Flowers of St Francis (1950) but particularly Franco Zeffirelli’s much maligned Brother Sun, Sister Moon (1972). (shrink)