>In the Hands of Fate: Existentialism in Film


Image from I’m a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (Mervyn LeRoy, 1932) [See Sam Mithani’s thesis, The Hollywood Left: Cinematic Art and Activism in the 1930s for reflections on the existentialism of this film’s director]

Viewing (30:43): In the Hands of Fate: Existentialism in Film (October 18, 2010)

Cinema condenses actions and their consequences. It puts the viewer into someone else’s shoes. Dilemmas tend to be urgent, up-close and personal: ergo, all films are existential. But several films in this year’s [London Film Festival] programme specifically emphasise philosophical struggles with circumstance. Veiko Õunpuu‘s The Temptation of St Tony makes drama out of the very discourse of existential thought. Xavier BeauvoisOf Gods and Men follows monks whose faith is shaken by fear of execution. Michelangelo Frammartino‘s Le Quattro Volte links a dying man’s end, to the fate of a lost kid (as in goat) and a felled tree. Finally, the dying man in Apichatpong Weerasethakul‘s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives accepts his fate yet the past makes its own demands on him. It’s more than just mortal thoughts that brings these films together; it’s a heightened sensitivity to our sense of purpose. We are very excited that directors Apichatpong Weerasethakul and Michelangelo Frammartino [joined] Dr David Sorfa (Senior lecturer in Film Studies at Liverpool John Moores University and managing editor of the journal, Film-Philosophy) on a panel chaired by Ian Haydn Smith, Editor of International Film Guide.

Film Studies For Free wanted to alert its readers to the above linked-to, wonderful BFI video on the topic of  existentialism and cinema. In its usual good faith, and as a perfect accompaniment, FSFF also brings you a little list of links to great, openly accessible, scholarly reading, much of it book-length, on the very same theme.

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