|Image from I’m a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932) [See Sam Mithani's thesis, The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s for reflections on the existentialism of this film's director]|
Cinema condenses actions and their consequences. It puts the viewer into someone else's shoes. Dilemmas tend to be urgent, up-close and personal: ergo, all films are existential. But several films in this year's [London Film Festival] programme specifically emphasise philosophical struggles with circumstance. Veiko Õunpuu's The Temptation of St Tony makes drama out of the very discourse of existential thought. Xavier Beauvois' Of Gods and Men follows monks whose faith is shaken by fear of execution. Michelangelo Frammartino's Le Quattro Volte links a dying man's end, to the fate of a lost kid (as in goat) and a felled tree. Finally, the dying man in Apichatpong Weerasethakul's Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives accepts his fate yet the past makes its own demands on him. It's more than just mortal thoughts that brings these films together; it's a heightened sensitivity to our sense of purpose. We are very excited that directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Michelangelo Frammartino [joined] Dr David Sorfa (Senior lecturer in Film Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and managing editor of the journal, Film-Philosophy) on a panel chaired by Ian Haydn Smith, Editor of International Film Guide.
Film Studies For Free wanted to alert its readers to the above linked-to, wonderful BFI video on the topic of existentialism and cinema. In its usual good faith, and as a perfect accompaniment, FSFF also brings you a little list of links to great, openly accessible, scholarly reading, much of it book-length, on the very same theme.
- Anders Albrechtslund, 'Surveillance pleasures: existentialism and ethics as represented in cinematic art' [Draft version], Author's Website, date unknown
- Tomas Axelson, 'Movies and Meaning: Studying Audience, Fiction Film and Existential Matters', Particip@tions, Volume 5, Issue 1, Special Edition (May 2008)
- Brian K. Bergen-Aurand, Seeing and the Seen: Post-Phenomelogical Ethics and the Cinema, PhD Thesis, University of Maryland, 2004
- Jean-Philippe Derant, 'Existentialist Aesthetics', Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 2009
- Marty Fairbairn, Cinema as Secular Church: A Phenomenological Typology and Hermeneutics, PhD Thesis, McMaster University, 1995
- Robert Harvey, 'Sartre/Cinema: Spectator/Art That Is Not One', Cinema Journal, 30.3, 1991
- Sam Mithani, The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s, PhD Thesis, University of Southern California, 2007
- Katherine V. Pettit, The truth and death of indexicality: photography, philosophy and cinema, MA Thesis, University of British Columbia, 2002
- David C. Simmons, The Dysphoric Style in Contemporary American Independent Cinema, PhD Thesis, Florida State University, Spring 2005
- Benjamin P. Spencer , '“Show Me How to See Things the Way You Do": Existentialism in Faith, Philosophy, and Film [on The Thin Red Line]', Honours Thesis, Whitman College, 2010
- Deborah A. Walker, Self-reflexivity and the construction of subjectivity in contemporary French cinema: Alain Resnais, PhD Thesis, University of Auckland, 2001
- Tony Williams, 'Power and Paranoia: 40s Hollwyood', from Jump Cut, no. 35, April 1990, pp. 73-77