The Place of Breath in Cinema

The Place of Breath in Cinema

Davina Quinlivan
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 232
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.3366/j.ctt3fgs4x
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  • Book Info
    The Place of Breath in Cinema
    Book Description:

    How can the cinema articulate the interstices between visibility and invisibility, and how are such notions of absence and the unseen implicated in the film experience? This study considers the locus of the breathing body in the film experience and its implications for the study of embodiment in film and sensuous spectatorship. Quinlivan puts forward a mode of critical engagement with film shaped by the foregrounding of the human body in the filmic diegesis and the viewing experience. The book's foregrounding of the human body as an, importantly, breathing body in film, coupled with its fresh engagement with continental philosophy, Post-Structuralist Film Theory and Contemporary Western Cinema, makes a unique and valuable contribution to the field. Key features: Case studies are taken from the work of major directors, including David Cronenberg, Atom Egoyan and Lars von Trier Key concepts explored are filmic space (air and the elemental in film), corporeality (bodies on screen and the film itself as a breathing body) and inter-subjectivity (community and sociality) Makes a notable contribution to the study of film sound and haptic perception

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-4900-6
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. vii-vii)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. viii-viii)
  5. INTRODUCTION: TROUBLING INVISIBILITY AND THE BREATHING BODY
    (pp. 1-40)

    How can we start to think about something we cannot see? This book explores the place of breath in the cinema and it begins with the question of borders between visibility and invisibility. Thus the notion of breathing stimulates new ways in which to question the nature of seeing, perceiving and sensing things which are not always entirely visible in film. My concern with the interstices between visibility and invisibility in film can be seen to represent an interest in the way in which sound serves to stimulate our perception beyond what is visible on screen. For example, voices and...

  6. 1. THE HAPTIC LOGIC OF A BREATHING BODY: ELEMENTAL TOPOGRAPHIES OF MEMORY AND LOSS
    (pp. 41-89)

    Atom Egoyan’s 1995 short film A Portrait of Arshile¹ combines images of the filmmaker’s newly born son with stills taken from the Armenian painter Arshile Gorky’s self-portrait. These images are assembled in order to create a video-letter to the child explaining the origins of his name, the two contrasting shots connected by a voice-over narrated by Egoyan and his wife Arsinée, informing us of the Armenian heritage and its history of genocide from which both ‘portraits’ implicitly inherit. Moving between the two Arshiles in the film, our attention is drawn to the textural differences between the extremely close and grainy...

  7. 2. AN ‘AIR IN FLESH’: AN ANATOMY OF BREATH, CARNALITY AND TRANSCENDENCE: THE BREATHING BODIES OF DAVID CRONENBERG
    (pp. 90-123)

    In her essay ‘The Inside-Out of Masculinity’, Linda Ruth Williams describes Cronenberg as a ‘surgeon’ whose fascination with ‘inner beauty’, like that of the Mantle twins in Dead Ringers,³ conceives of the ‘opened body and the eye which sees as subjectively the same’.⁴ Furthermore, according to Williams, the act of opening up the body is far more interesting to Cronenberg than that of viewing it.⁵ This turning ‘inside-out’, then, as Williams puts it, characterises Cronenberg’s thematic undoing of bodies and flesh in films such as Rabid (1977) and Crash (1997), a kind of taxidermy of the subject (recalling György Pálfi’s...

  8. 3. TOWARDS INTER-SUBJECTIVITIES OF BREATH AND THE BREATHING FILM VIEWER: LARS VON TRIER’S ‘GOLD HEART’ TRILOGY
    (pp. 124-167)

    This chapter explores the relationship between on-screen bodies, the sounds they make and the body of the viewer – what the film theorist Tarja Laine might call a ‘triadic communality’.³ Central to the way in which I draw attention to a viewing experience shaped by the acoustic, and visual, orientation towards the communality of breathing will be Lars von Trier’s filmic coupling of bodies and their articulation of an Irigarayan inter-subjectivity; this reflection on the inter-subjectivity of breathing places special emphasis on what Tamazin E. Lorraine has described as a moment in which it is possible for ‘the subject to...

  9. CONCLUSION
    (pp. 168-172)

    In the first chapter of this book, the films of Egoyan resonated with the cathartic dimensions of breathing central to Irigaray’s thought. Egoyan’s ‘elemental topographies’ presented new ways in which to explore the real and psychical perception of space to which breathing attunes the subject, and this led to questions of ambivalence that related to the viewer’s perception of the film.

    The ambivalent form of film viewing that emerged through my analysis of Egoyan’s films was re-examined in light of the breathing, sexed bodies of Cronenberg’s films in the second chapter of this book. The locus of breathing in Cronenberg’s...

  10. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 173-184)
  11. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 185-188)
  12. INDEX
    (pp. 189-192)