Melancholy Emotion in Contemporary Cinema
A Spinozian Analysis of Film Experience
This work outlines a new methodology for film analysis based on the radical materialist thought of Baruch Spinoza, re-evaluating contemporary cognitive media theory and philosophical theories on the emotional and intellectual aspects of film experience.
Sticchi’s exploration of Spinozian philosophy creates an experiential constructive model to blend the affective and intellectual aspects of cognition, and to combine it with different philosophical interpretations of film theory. Spinoza’s embodied philosophy rejected logical and ethical dualisms, and established a perfect parallelism between sensation and reason and provides the opportunity to address negative emotions and sad passions without referring exclusively to traditional notions such as catharsis or sublimation, and to put forth a practical/embodied notion of Film-Philosophy. This new analytical approach is tested on four case studies, films that challenge the viewer’s emotional engagement since they display situations of cosmic failure and depict controversial and damaged characters: A Serious Man (2009); Melancholia (2011); The Act of Killing (2012) and Only Lovers Left Alive (2013).
This book is an important addition to the literature in Film Studies, particularly in Cognitive Film Theory and Philosophy of Film. Its affective and semantic analyses of film experience (studies of embodied conceptualisation), connecting Spinoza’s thought to the analysis of audiovisual media, will also be of interest to Philosophy scholars and in academic courses of film theory, film-philosophy and cognitive film studies.
Table of Contents
Introduction Part 1 Philosophical Models and Interpretative Instruments 1 From Spinoza to the Embodied Mind A Radical Notion of Immanence The Embodied Mind Body Concepts and Idealised Cognitive Models Metonymical and Metaphorical Blending Emotions and the Imitation of the Affects Sad Passions and Knowledge as the Most Powerful of the Affects Summary and Conclusions Part 2 A Spinozian-Experiential Theory of Film 2 A Spinozian Re-Evaluation of Cognitive Film Theory Top-Down Processes and Cognitive Semiotics The Ecological Psychology of Film Engaging Film Characters Scenarios, Moods, and the Imaginative Dynamics of Involvement Embodied Simulation and Films Experiential Perspectives on Film Analysis Conclusions 3 A Spinozian Philosophy of Film Experience The Relation between Philosophy and Cinema Film Are Percepts The Issue of Trauma and Sad Passions in Film Experience Summary and Conclusions: The Experiential Viewer and Her/His Possibilities Part 3 Case Studies: Four Melancholic Films 4 A Contemporary Job: A Serious Man 5 The World Shatters: Melancholia 6 Mastering Genocide: The Act of Killing 7 Time Is a Flat Circle: Only Lovers Left Alive Conclusions Bibliography Index
Francesco Sticchi obtained a Ph.D in Film Studies at Oxford Brookes University under the supervision of Dr Warren Buckland. He works as Associate Lecturer in the same institution, and his research concerns the study of sad passions in audiovisual experience, and the relation between Spinoza’s thought and embodied cognitive theories. He is also interested in an experiential and interactive use of Mikhail Bakhtin's Chronotope, and he is currently working on an affective-ethical approach to analyse how contemporary media culture addresses the concept of precarity.