04 décembre 2011

Film Philosophy (MIT)

Philosophy of Film / MIT 24.213 (Prof. Irving Singer)
During the fall of 2004, four sessions of 24.213 were recorded especially for OpenCourseWare.

This course is a seminar on the philosophical analysis of film art, with an emphasis on the ways in which it creates meaning through techniques that define a formal structure. There is a particular focus on aesthetic problems about appearance and reality, literary and visual effects, communication and alienation through film technology.
Session 1 [1h10']
Syllabus and course requirements, philosophy and film, student introductions, the humanist philosopher, Jean Cocteau, film as cultural communication, readings for the course, meaning and technique are inseparable
  • 00:00:00 Introduction to course
  • 00:13:10 Singer explains his work in philosophy...
  • 00:19:47 The first reading book Reality Transformed..
  • 00:21:20 Singer continues with student introductions...
  • 00:28:18 Singer describes himself as a humanist philosopher.
  • 00:31:00 Singer discusses the work of Jean Cocteau.
  • 00:41:30 Student raises issue of film as a primary form of cultural communication.
  • 00:58:55 Singer's fundamental idea on meaning and technique is that the 2 cannot be separated

Session 2 [42'39"]
why study film?, realism and formalism, mathematics as an abstract art form, film and photography, Beauty and the Beast, Cocteau, Citizen Kane
  • Student begins presentation, asking the question: Why study film?
  • Singer discusses the interpenetration of realism and formalism in film.
  • In response to a student's description of problem-solving in engineering, Singer argues that mathematics is an abstract art form.
  • Discussion of the aesthetic differences between film and photography.
  • Student talks about Cocteau's film, Beauty & the Beast.
  • Further discussion of Cocteau; Singer explains that in Cocteau's work, film lends itself to poetry.
  • Student continues presentation with analysis of Citizen Kane.

Session 3 [1h12'48"]
Beauty and the Beast, William James, Citizen Kane
  • Singer announces that this session will continue the discussion of the last 2 weeks, which included an introduction to the philosophy of film; watching Beauty & the Beast (an archetype of what Cocteau calls "the poetry of film"); and discussion of the distinction between realist and formalist schools.
  • Singer mentions the work of the American philosopher William James.
  • Singer continues discussion of Beauty & the Beast.
  • Singer reviews the Disney version of Beauty & the Beast, which draws on Cocteau's version to some degree.
  • Emily begins presentation on Citizen Kane, discussing themes of alienation in the film.
  • Discussion of Welles's choice of the word "Rosebud."
  • Singer argues that Welles is not sympathetic to the character of Kane; students discuss whether or not they felt sympathy for the character.
  • Singer discusses Welles's involvement with politics.
  • Emily continues presentation with discussion of how techniques of cinematography are used to express elements of time, memory, reality, and illusion.

Session 4 [59'26"]
 Orson Welles, The Dead, The Magnificent Ambersons, expectations for student papers
  • Student begins presentation on Welles, focusing on a philosophy of pessimism.
  • Singer points out that Welles generally avoids nostalgia and sentimentality, in contrast to Huston's film, The Dead.
  • Singer discusses the use of myths in works of art, and how myths function in our interpretations of the past and our search for truth.
  • Discussion of the BBC documentary on Welles.
  • Discussion of comic elements in Welles's work.
  • Singer claims that critics have not given credit for the depth of feeling that Welles expresses, which is particularly evident in The Magnificent Ambersons.
  • Singer reviews expectations for students' second paper.


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