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Doug C

Campbell's "Artists of Faith" Series

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Just wanted to say that I thoroughly enjoyed Ken and my presentations last night at Campbell University. I hope this is a series Ken continues with other speakers. He presented on Dreyer, and I presented on the Dardennes. We had about 80 students, and they seemed very engaged and asked questions afterward. Given that I met Ken here at A&F many moons ago, I thought I would mention it here.

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Edited by Doug C

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10 hours ago, Doug C said:

I presented on the Dardennes

Doug, would you be willing to send me your notes on your Dardennes talk? I'm doing a PhD on them, and your chapter in Ken's "Faith and Spirituality" book is one of the better things I've read on them--and phenomenology is a significant part of my approach, so your title is intriguing. You can email me at jmayward (at) gmail.

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Sorry, Joel, I don't really have notes, or at least readable ones. I was drawing from a lot of different sources and just giving them an intro (I only had 20 minutes).

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Hi Doug, I echo Christian's and Russ's sentiments (in the other thread) that it's always a pleasure to see you, whether it is at an event like the one we shared or for a few moments poking your head into A&F to say hi. I appreciate your encouragement and insights over the years.

Joel, as a layman listener to Doug's presentation, I would say it was not radically different from the book chapter you reference but was, as is appropriate, more foundational as an introduction. For more on phenomenology, Doug recommended V, Sobchack's The Address of the Eye

I found the presentation helpful in seeing how the influence of Levinas (the face of the other carries with a hint or symbol of the ultimate other) dovetail with but are separate from the phenomenological approach in general. I'll be honest, it also made me question my own tendency to think of the Dardennes as "Christian" filmmakers in a narrower sense and more as filmmakers whose cultural work is compatible with Christan ethics and morality (as I understand them). As is probably also appropriate, it made me see how that philosophy is expressed through the *style* of the films (hand-held cameras), presentation rather than only through the narrative content. 

 

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26 minutes ago, kenmorefield said:

it also made me question my own tendency to think of the Dardennes as "Christian" filmmakers in a narrower sense and more as filmmakers whose cultural work is compatible with Christan ethics and morality (as I understand them). As is probably also appropriate, it made me see how that philosophy is expressed through the *style* of the films (hand-held cameras), presentation rather than only through the narrative content. 

This is all excellent, and affirming of what I'm working on in my own research. Luc is pretty open about his atheistic beliefs, although he's not *quite* a hardcore Dawkins-esque atheist--I'm arguing that they're post-secular filmmakers, somewhere between secularism and religion. I do have some emerging thoughts on the "Levinasian turn" in film studies and the Dardennes' role in that turn (long story short, I think it's hard to wholly apply Levinas to cinema without serious caveats when he seemed pretty down on cinema/art), and I'm currently reading the Sobchack book. But the sense of philosophy through film, or film-as-philosophy (really, film-philosophy) is what I'm aiming for, only in theology (film-theology).

Doug, if you ever want to talk Dardennes, let's make it happen.

Edited by Joel Mayward

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I've actually been focused on other things in my graduate studies the past few years, which made it particularly nice to revisit the Dardennes, and that article, which was really a summary statement of my several years of engagement with the whole neorealist-transcendent Rossellini-Bresson-Dardenne continuum. Definitely recommend Address of the Eye, which is The Book on film phenomenology, which continues to spark my fascination with film (and life in general).

Thank you for your summary, Ken, it makes me happy to know some of my main ideas successfully came across!

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Yes, Ken, as phenomenology is a method that describes the initial moment of impact, and brackets off interpretation until one has adequately described the phenomena (in the case of film, visual and aural, although other senses might be perceived), and looked for variant/invariant qualities through intersubjective comparison (or in the Dardennes' case, multiple subjectivities of viewer-camera-and characters watching other characters), it is pre-reflective and pre- or proto-ideological (political, theological, what have you). One can still get to those thematizations but it takes longer; you really have to stop and focus on what you're actually seeing and hearing first, the perceived sense of being-in-the-world, both what is revealed and what is hidden. So in that sense, the idea that we are formed by our response to what we perceive—and particularly, in Levinas and the Dardennes, through the face of the other—is both pre-reflective and post-reflective. The kid with a bike grabs Samantha because she is there, and only later does he and she (along with the viewer) come to recognize meaning(s) in the action, etc.

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Hey Doug, we were discussing the end of Rosetta and your talk today. A question arose that I would be interested in your feedback on if you care to respond...

 

In the Criterion linter notes/essay Kent Jones says, Riquet is "the one person whom she, by force of circumstances, allows to exist."
 

Why this construction? Why is it not Riquet (or us) who allow Rosetta to exist by perceiving her? 

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I'll have to hunt down Jones's essay, but my initial thought is that the intentionality of Subject and Object is reversible, thus Riquet sees Rosetta, and in return she sees him. He's really the only character (or the first at least) who she allows within her self-protective shell.

Of course this is part of a process that is first seen when she tries to let him drown but can't, which Riquet even points out later. Riquet's cries compel her to respond even though she doesn't want to, and for reasons she hasn't fully processed.

Edited by Doug C

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Well, I've read the essay, which I think is pretty good. I don't know if Jones has any training in phenomenology, but I do think his statement is justified--Riquet acknowledges and tries to befriend Rosetta, and although she fights it, she eventually relents and in return, acknowledges him and "allows him to exist." In her incantation, she says "I have a friend," but does she really at that point? The waffles and dancing scene is a masterpiece of counterpoint, Rosetta resisting intimacy every step of the way. And later, she reports on him to get his job--until she finally understands a job is not what she needs to truly exist (though her solution is to cease existence). Rosetta is not a bad person, her care for her mother reveals that, but a deeply afraid one whose hard shell of self-reliance is a protective survival mechanism. It treats everyone in utilitarian fashion, a means to an end, which she thinks is necessary for her survival. Her revelation is that this persistent young man really wants to be her friend and that she needs him.

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