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For Alain Badiou, films think, and it is the task of the philosopher to transcribe that thinking. What is the subject to which the film gives expressive form? This is the question that lies at the heart of Badiou’s account of cinema.
He contends that cinema is an art form that bears witness to the Other and renders human presence visible, thus testifying to the universal value of human existence and human freedom. Through the experience of viewing, the movement of thought that constitutes the film is passed on to the viewer, who thereby encounters an aspect of the world and its exaltation and vitality as well as its difficulty and complexity. Cinema is an impure art cannibalizing its times, the other arts, and people – a major art precisely because it is the locus of the indiscernibility between art and non-art. It is this, argues Badiou, that makes cinema the social and political art par excellence, the best indicator of our civilization, in the way that Greek tragedy, the coming-of-age novel and the operetta were in their respective eras.
Alain Badiou was Chair of the Department of Philosophy at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris and is one of the leading philosophers in France today. His many books include Being and Event and The Century.
Table of Contents
1. Introduction, Antoine de Baecque. “Cinema is a thinking whose products are the real.”
2. “Cinema has given me a lot.” An interview with Alain Badiou.
3. Cinematic Culture
4. Revisionist Cinema. A synthesis for evaluating such films as 1900, L’Affiche Rouge (The Red Poster), Mado, Le Voyage des comédiens (The Traveling Players), Le Juge et l’assassin (The Judge and the Assassin), and other films, either existing or yet to be made.
5. Art and its Criticism: The Criteria of Progressivism
6. The Suicide of Grace. Robert Bresson, Le Diable, probablement (The Devil, Probably)
7. A Man Who Never Gives In
6. Is the Orient an Object for the Western Conscience? Volker Schlöndorff, Circle of Deceit (Die Fälschung)
9. Reference Points for Cinema’s Second Modernity
10. The Demy Affair
11. Switzerland: Cinema as Interpretation
12. Interrupted Notes on the French Comedy Film
13. Y’a tellement de pays pour aller (There’s So Many Countries to Go to). Jean Bigiaoui, Claude Hagège, Jacques Sansoulh
14. Restoring Meaning to Death and Chance. Pierre Beuchot, Le Temps détruit (Time Destroyed)
15. A Private Industry, Cinema is also a Private Spectacle
16. The False Movements of Cinema
17. Can A Film Be Spoken About?
18. Notes on The Last Laugh (Der letzte Mann), Murnau.
19. “Thinking the Emergence of the Event”
20. The Divine Comedy and The Convent, Manoel de Oliveira
21. Surplus Seeing. Jean-Luc Godard, Histoire(s) du cinéma
22. Considerations on the Current State of Cinema and on the Ways of Thinking that State without Having to Conclude that Cinema is Dead or Dying
23. The Cinematic Capture of the Sexes
24. Hugo Santiago: An Unqualified Affirmation of Cinema’s Enduring Power. Le Loup de la côte ouest (The Wolf of the West Coast)
25. Passion, Jean-Luc Godard
26. “Say Yes to Love, or Else be Lonely.” A discussion about Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia.
27. Dialectics of the Fable. The Matrix, a Philosophical Machine
28. Cinema as Philosophical Experimentation
29. On Cinema as a Democratic Emblem
30. The End of a Beginning. Notes on Tout Va Bien (Everything’s All Right) by Jean-Luc Godard and Jean-Pierre Gorin
31. The Dimensions of Art. Udi Aloni, Forgiveness
32. The Perfection of the World, Unlikely yet Possible. Clint Eastwood, A Perfect World