“Foucault at the Movies” by Patrice Maniglier and Dork Zabunyan— A Philosopher and Film

Maniglier, Patrice and Dork Zabunyan, “Foucault at the Movies”, translated by Clare O’Farrell, Oxford University Press, 2018.

A Philosopher and Film

Amos Lassen

I do not remember that Michel Foucault was a film bug but that could be just because I did not pay attention; something that is hard to do when dealing with a great mind. I now know that his “work on film, although not extensive, compellingly illustrates the power of bringing his unique vision to bear on the subject and offers valuable insights into other aspects of his thought.” This new volume brings together all of Foucault’s commentary on film, some of it available for the first time in English and with important contemporary analyses and further extensions of this work.

Here we see Foucault’s writings on film “in the context of the rest of his work as well as within a broad historical and philosophical framework.” They show how Foucault’s work directly or indirectly inspired both film critics and directors in different ways and discuss his ideas in relation to significant movements within film theory and practice. Included are film reviews and discussions by Foucault as well as his interviews with the prestigious film magazine “Cahiers du cinema” and other influential journals. We have his dialogues with the noted French feminist writer Hélène Cixous and film directors Werner Schroeter and René Féret. Foucault emphasizes the relationship of film to history, the body, power and politics, knowledge, sexuality, aesthetics, and institutions of internment (all of which are his areas of expertise).

We have Foucault speaking in his own voice and saying that “the art of living” means “that psychology must be killed; that the body must be dismantled; that memory must function without remembering; and that passion is more interesting than love.” It s fascinating that what he has to say about movies increases our understanding of Foucault’s thought. This is quite a stimulating looked at a contribution from Foucault that has been not dealt with.

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