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Thinking about Film

Discover what cinema teaches us about philosophy with this new featured content collection

Bloomsbury Philosophy Library includes a selection of primary texts, secondary literature, and exclusive articles exploring the relationship between film and philosophy. The featured content below offers an introduction to some of the key thinkers and contentious debates.

What can film teach us about philosophy? Find out how it is possible to use philosophy to better appreciate films.

cover image of Cinema I: The Movement-Image, by Gilles Deleuze

Cinema I: The Movement-Image, Gilles Deleuze

Cinema I is the first volume of Deleuze's revolutionary work on the theory of cinema. Drawing on the philosophy of Henri Bergson, Deleuze identified his work as “a logic of the cinema”, setting out to “isolate certain cinematographic concepts” philosophically. To do this, he brings together a wide range of examples from a variety of major filmmakers, including Ingmar Bergman, Charlie Chaplin, Sergei Eisenstein and Alfred Hitchcock, among many others.

You can read Irene Han’s new introduction to the text here.

Cinema II: The Time-Image, Gilles Deleuze

Cinema II is Deleuze's second work on cinema, completing the reassessment of the art form begun in Cinema I. Influenced by the philosophy of Henri Bergson, Deleuze here offers a compelling analysis of the cinematic treatment of time and memory, thought and speech. The work draws on examples from major film makers, including Federico Fellini, Alfred Hitchcock and Orson Welles, among many others.

You can read Irene Han’s new introduction to the text here.

Front cover of Aesthetics and Film

Aesthetics and Film, Katherine Thomson-Jones

After we have left the cinema or turned off the television, we may start wondering about the film’s deeper meaning, its themes, moral, or message – for example, what the film tells us about life and death, love, power, sexuality or even the nature of film itself. And even if we don’t look for deeper meaning, we almost certainly form judgments about whether the film was any good, judgments that go beyond mere preference and aspire to objectivity. This suggests that there are three principal activities performed by the thinking film viewer: comprehension, interpretation, and evaluation. In other words, contrary to the familiar disparagement, there is nothing ‘mindless’ about the entertainment films provide.

You can read more about The Thinking Viewer in Aesthetics and Film by Katherine Thomson-Jones here.

Front cover of New Philosophies of Film by Robert Sinnerbrink

New Philosophies of Film, Robert Sinnerbrink

New Philosophies of Film welcomes both passionate film enthusiast and dedicated philosophical reader (who may well be one and the same!) and aims to show how the emerging ‘field’ of film and philosophy is one of the most exciting in aesthetics today. It is intended both as an introduction to the dynamic new wave of philosophizing on film, and as an independent contribution to this emerging field of interdisciplinary engagement.

You can read the introduction here.

Front cover of Laruelle and Art

Film Fables, Jacques Rancière

In Film Fables Jacques Rancière turns his critical eye to the history of modern cinema. Combining an extraordinary breadth of analysis with an attentiveness to detail born from an obvious love of cinema, Rancière shows us new ways of looking at and interpreting film. His analysis moves effortlessly from Eisenstein's and Murnau's transition from theatre to film to Fritz Lang's confrontation with television, from the classical poetics of Mann's Westerns to Ray's romantic poetics of the image, from Rossellini's neo-realism to Deleuze's philosophy of the cinema. The book also includes extended commentaries on the work of Hitchcock, Godard, Vertov and Bergman.

You can read Chapter 10 Documentary Fiction: Marker and the Fiction of Memory, here.

Front cover of Deleuze and Film: A Feminist Introduction

Deleuze and Film: A Feminist Introduction, Teresa Rizzo

In the first book-length introduction to Deleuze's work on film from a feminist perspective, Teresa Rizzo ranges across Deleuze's books on Cinema and feminist re-workings of his philosophy to re-think the film viewing experience. More than a commentary on Deleuze's books on Cinema, Rizzo's work addresses a significant gap in film theory, building a bridge between the spectatorship studies and apparatus theories of the 1970s, and new theorisations of the cinematic experience. Developing a concept of a 'cinematic assemblage', the book focuses on affective and intensive connections between film and viewer. Through a careful analysis of a range of film texts and genres that have been important to feminist film scholarship, such as the Alien series and the modern horror film, Rizzo puts Deleuze's key concepts to work in exciting new ways.

You can read the Introduction, and Chapter 1 The Cinematic Apparatus and the Transcendental Subject, here.