Melancholy Emotion in Contemporary Cinema: A Spinozian Analysis of Film Experience, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Melancholy Emotion in Contemporary Cinema

A Spinozian Analysis of Film Experience, 1st Edition

By Francesco Sticchi


198 pages

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Hardback: 9781138317741
pub: 2018-12-13
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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


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


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




About the Author

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.

About the Series

Routledge Advances in Film Studies

This series is our home for innovative research in the field of film studies. It includes monographs and targeted edited collections that provide new insights into this important and evolving subject area.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PERFORMING ARTS / Film & Video / History & Criticism
PHILOSOPHY / Aesthetics
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Media Studies