Film Literature and Philosophy 1
Esme Banks Marr 09819687
What, if anything, can Film offer to the body of philosophical knowledge and understanding?
The question of whether or not there are elements of Philosophical thinking and discussion that cannot be reached, without Film, is of paramount discussion in this essay. Could Cinema be the latest development in the teaching of Philosophy? The idea of film as a means of philosophy, must call upon mutual considerations, from both perspectives; philosophy reflects upon film just as much as film teaches philosophy. This relationship is evident in many filmic texts. Philosophy can be applied to almost any film, however, a film that can teach the viewer philosophical arguments, or philosophical thinking, is different. I shall be using two key case studies to aid in my argument that Cinema is a new phase, for the understanding of philosophy.
Firstly, it is essential to state why Philosophy is important, and why it is studied. From the viewpoint of Perspectivism, all human beings adjust their lives in order of what they view actuality is, and this, evidently, directs them in how they think they should act. The life one fulfils, along with the choices made, are a direct consequence of their own personal philosophy.
Philosophy can be studied in various ways. The aim of this paper is to show how, and explain why Film is not only a relevant, but valuable way of understanding philosophy. Films might be seen as “themselves reflecting on and evaluating such view and arguments, as thinking seriously and systematically about them in just the ways that philosophers do.” (Mulhall, 2002:2) The principle among philosophers founded by Aristotle (c300 BC) of ‘peripatetic’s’, is the teaching method of essentially ‘walking and talking’. Whereby one will do their greatest thinking and understanding, whilst engaging on such a walk. With the same belief, Film can take a viewer on a journey, which one would seldom reach otherwise. Ludwig Wittgenstein, a highly influential and momentous philosopher in the 20th century, states that Language alone cannot express the nature of the world (Tractatus, 1921) Therefore, it is undeniable, that in order to succumb to this belief, society requires something further; potentially, that being, film. If Language fails to articulate the extensive nature of the world, the visual relief of Film may be the method in which this could eventually be achieved.
“Films may take as their subject matter particular philosophers, their lives and their thinking. They may be adaptations of literary works with strong philosophical themes. Or they may make an explicit reference to philosophical idea or positions, to the extent that they cite philosophical claims, present or express philosophical questions and ideas, or explicitly invoke philosophical issues in some form.” (Falzon, 2007: 7) One can view a film on various cognitive levels, advancing limitlessly in terms of the understanding of philosophy, in addition to adding to the corpus of philosophical knowledge. “...cinema is primarily a visual medium, showing rather than telling its stories, but this does not mean that it simply presents the story to us in a visual way. We see what is presented to
Film Literature and Philosophy 2
Esme Banks Marr 09819687
us is profoundly shaped and manipulated by the filmmaker. Film does not merely record events but guides us as to how to see them.” (Falzon, 2007:42) Films guide us in how to think (not necessarily what to think) and influence our opinions and consequently our philosophies. Through watching a film, the senses of sight and sound are accomplished; therefore there is real experience in the watching of films. These senses can be reacted to through film, as can the feelings, for example of empathy and fearfulness. Images are a powerful means to communicating messages, arguably more so than spoken or written literature. Memento (Nolan, 2000) is very much a philosophical...
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