Cinema Against Doublethink : Ethical Encounters with the Lost Pasts of World History book cover
1st Edition

Cinema Against Doublethink
Ethical Encounters with the Lost Pasts of World History

ISBN 9781138907959
Published September 19, 2018 by Routledge
258 Pages

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Book Description

When is it OK to lie about the past? If history is a story, then everyone knows that the 'official story' is told by the winners. No matter what we may know about how the past really happened, history is as it is recorded: this is what George Orwell called doublethink. But what happens to all the lost, forgotten, censored, and disappeared pasts of world history? Cinema Against Doublethink uncovers how a world of cinemas acts as a giant archive of these lost pasts, a vast virtual store of the world’s memories. The most enchanting and disturbing films of recent years – Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall his Past Lives, Nostalgia for the Light, Even the Rain, The Act of Killing, Carancho, Lady Vengeance – create ethical encounters with these lost pasts, covering vast swathes of the planet and crossing huge eras of time. Analysed using the philosophies of Gilles Deleuze (the time-image) and Enrique Dussel (transmodern ethics), the multitudinous cinemas of the world are shown to speak out against doublethink, countering this biggest lie of all with their myriad 'false' versions of world history. Cinema, acting against doublethink, remains a powerful agent for reclaiming the truth of history for the 'post-truth' era.

Table of Contents

List of figures




Introduction: One or many pasts?

Celine and Julie go Boating; Embrace of the Serpent


PART I Decolonising entrances to the past


1 History/Ethics: Interpreting stories from world history (Enrique Dussel)


2 Ethics/History: Hesitating in encountering lost pasts (Gilles Deleuze)


PART II Encounters with the past that is/is not preserved


3 4.54 (to 13.7) billion years: Planetary history, the natural contract, encountering earthly pasts

Uncle Boonmee who can Recall his Past Lives; Nostalgia for the Light


4 500 years: The North Atlantic trade circuit, the racial contract, encountering others’ pasts

How Tasty Was My Little Frenchman; Even the Rain


PART III Encounters with the present that passes


5 70 years: The Cold War, the social contract, encountering political pasts

The Act of Killing; At the Foot of the White Tree


6 45 years: Neoliberal globalisation, the personal contract, encountering bodily pasts

Carancho; Lady Vengeance


Conclusion: One or many faces of the (lost) past?

Alone in Berlin; Another Story of the World


Select bibliography


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David Martin-Jones is Professor of Film Studies, University of Glasgow, UK. His research uses philosophy to explore world cinemas. He is the author/editor of eight books, has published in numerous international journals (e.g. Cinema Journal, Screen, Third Text), and edits the Bloomsbury series Thinking Cinema.

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David Martin-Jones

Professor of Film Studies, University of Glasgow

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A major contribution to the "unthinking" of the axioms of westocentric globalization, this concept-rich volume opens up new "lines of flight" in terms of radical cinema and analysis. In an approach at once worldly, transnational, global, and even planetary, the book offers a remarkable synthesis of political philosophy/theory and film exegesis. Invoking a remarkably wide range of filmic and theoretical references, the book catalyzes a conversation between disciplines, regions, and media. The book offers a welcome tonic in a dystopian age of "post-truth."

Robert Stam, New York University, co-author of Keywords in Subversive Film/Media Aesthetics (2015)

It is most refreshing and encouraging reading a book, sensed and written in Glasgow, that starts from some place else (in this case Enrique Dussel and Latin America) and give its due recognition to Western Europe (in this case Gilles Deleuze). David Martin-Jones has made a signal contribution to the current processes radically shifting from Western universal to pluriversal world histories, celebrating the splendors of global memories and triumphantly denying the Western colonial denial of contemporaneity.

Walter D. Mignolo, Duke University, co-author of On Decoloniality: Concepts, Analytics, Praxis (2018)

The wonderfully ambitious and beautifully crafted Cinema Against Doublethink brings us a view from the global south and world memory through the prism of cinema. The notion of worlds of cinema take us not to the rewriting of history but to a retrieval of lost transnational histories that resists inequality in colonial, postcolonial, and neocolonial contexts. It proposes an encounter with lost pasts through our ethical engagement that sets in motion a new awareness of the world we live in.

Sandra Ponzanesi, Utrecht University, co-editor of Postcolonial Transitions in Europe (2016)

Through the various phases of colonial modernity, whether originally as formal Euro-rule or as contemporary transnational neo-liberal capitalist globalization, it has consistently sought to erase rival temporalities, alternative mappings of past and present that might presage more egalitarian futures. In a dazzling synthesis of film and critical theory, David Martin-Jones uses Gilles Deleuze’s time-image in inspired conjunction with Latin American decolonial thought and radical social contract theory to demonstrate how recent global cinema challenges this oppressive chronopolitics, revealing—against a seemingly ineluctable and all-devouring Orwellian now—different emancipatory times and possibilities.

Charles W. Mills, CUNY, author of Black Rights/White Wrongs (2017)