Where Film Meets Philosophy

Where Film Meets Philosophy: Godard, Resnais, and Experiments in Cinematic Thinking

HUNTER VAUGHAN
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/vaug16132
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  • Book Info
    Where Film Meets Philosophy
    Book Description:

    Hunter Vaughan interweaves phenomenology and semiotics to analyze cinema's ability to challenge conventional modes of thought. Merging Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology of perception with Gilles Deleuze's image-philosophy, Vaughan applies a rich theoretical framework to a comparative analysis of Jean-Luc Godard's films, which critique the audio-visual illusion of empirical observation (objectivity), and the cinema of Alain Resnais, in which the sound-image generates innovative portrayals of individual experience (subjectivity). Both filmmakers radically upend conventional film practices and challenge philosophical traditions to alter our understanding of the self, the world, and the relationship between the two. Films discussed in detail include Godard's Vivre sa vie (1962), Contempt (1963), and 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her (1967); and Resnais's Hiroshima, mon amour (1959), Last Year at Marienbad (1961), and The War Is Over (1966). Situating the formative works of these filmmakers within a broader philosophical context, Vaughan pioneers a phenomenological film semiotics linking two disparate methodologies to the mirrored achievements of two seemingly irreconcilable artists.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-53082-8
    Subjects: Film Studies, Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. INTRODUCTION: Where Film Meets Philosophy
    (pp. 1-34)

    The past three decades have witnessed a burgeoning interest in the intersection between philosophy and cinema studies. From Stanley Cavell’s Wittgensteinian forays into American cultural morality to Fredric Jameson’s explorations of the filmic postmodern, to the Deleuzean movement toward cinema as a medium of particular philosophical interest, this interdisciplinary intersection continues to foster debate and new theoretical developments, generating self-applied methodological terms that range from the positivist (“cognitive”) to the methodologically experimental (“filmosophy”).¹ Despite its often rigorous juggling act that keeps afloat so many concepts, texts, and intellectual histories, however, the field that has popularly come to be called “film-philosophy”...

  6. ONE PHENOMENOLOGY AND THE VIEWING SUBJECT
    (pp. 35-74)

    When we are watching a film, it often seems as though we are looking through a window onto the world, or as if the camera itself were a set of eyes, looking at the world for us—perhaps both of these at once, even. The camera moves and the image shifts, or the sequence cuts to another shot, and it is as if an idea was created, a train of thought, and yet it wasn’t only in our heads. It was on the screen, in the film’s process of unfolding, part of the process of becoming that takes place before...

  7. TWO FILM CONNOTATION AND THE SIGNIFIED SUBJECT
    (pp. 75-100)

    In the previous chapter I used principles of phenomenology to lay the foundation for analyzing film in terms of subject-object relations.Through analysis of Eisenstein’s and Bazin’s theoretical approaches, followed by a comparative assessment of two films by Jean-Luc Godard, I demonstrated that, while there are certain similarities between the organizations provided by film form and direct human experience, it might nonetheless be best to do away with such metaphors as cameraperception or image-as-consciousness. Humans are humans, and film is film. And while the latter observation may offer insights into the condition of the former, both within its constructs and through...

  8. THREE SOUND, IMAGE, AND THE ORDER OF MEANING
    (pp. 101-138)

    In chapter 1 I engaged with the phenomenological relationship between the film image and human perception; in the last chapter I moved away from strict film analysis to dive deeper into the connection between philosophy and film semiotics and, more specifically, where they might meet in a theory of film connotation. This meeting place, I will continue to elaborate here, is intricately and inevitably linked to the relationship in film between an order of meaning and a system of reference. An analysis of Godard’s films led me to conclude that the transcendental subjective position is only one of many possible...

  9. FOUR ALAIN RESNAIS AND THE CODE OF SUBJECTIVITY
    (pp. 139-168)

    As I hope has become apparent in my reading of Deleuze, this book is not an indictment of subjectivity or filmic subjectivity. As Martin Schwab points out in discussing Deleuze’s film writing: “the subject is not an anomaly—it is cosmic normality, no matter how unlikely its emergence.”¹ But between the theories of Bazin and Eisenstein, Metz and Deleuze, and between the cinemas of the classical era and those of Godard and Resnais, there exists a striking difference among arguments of how film subjectivity should be constructed, what it should resemble, how it should be organized and how the process...

  10. FIVE JEAN-LUC GODARD AND THE CODE OF OBJECTIVITY
    (pp. 169-196)

    In the previous two chapters I have examined the construction of subject-functions within the text. Alain Resnais experiments extensively with this construction in order to challenge conventional assumptions concerning the division between individual and collective, interior and exterior, real and imaginary, as a function of the human characters of his films and also as a function of film as a medium. By altering and subverting the code of subjectivity, Resnais focuses film signification on the immanent field in which the form itself engenders a dialogic interaction between subject-functions, producing experiments in cinematic thinking that break down conventional subject-object dualisms to...

  11. CONCLUSION: Where Film and Philosophy May Lead
    (pp. 197-206)

    The analysis of Jean-Luc Godard’s Contempt BRINGS MY book full circle and has permitted me to revisit some of the original questions posed in my opening pages, in the light of all that has been discussed in between. With this conclusion I intend to clarify how the methodology developed in this book might be utilized by more specific theoretical approaches and expanded to accommodate other film practices and modes of expression. No film is without an order of meaning, and no film manifests this otherwise than through its systems of reference, but neither is any film made outside of an...

  12. NOTES
    (pp. 207-228)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 229-238)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 239-244)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 245-247)