DOSSIER: VIOLENCE AND FILM
By George A. Dunn and Chris Fleming
By Tom Livingstone
Abstract: This essay explores the nature of temporal experience today by first examining the relationship between screen media and temporal experience, specifically with regards to the digital “oner.” I use the films from the Kingsman franchise to analyse the constituent parts of the “oner” focussing on how these effects and their modular deployment interact with spectatorial attention and the sensation of passing time. My conclusion suggests that the production of continuity within digital “oners” instantiates a form of abstract violence that is a constituent part of temporal experience more broadly.
By M. Blake Wilson
Abstract: From Buñuel and Dali’s Un Chien Andalou to recent works by Danish filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn, the cinematic destruction of the eye has become iconic due to its striking effect upon film spectators’ visceral experiences as well as its ability to influence their symbolic or fetishistic desires. By exploiting the natural discomfort and disgust produced by these types of images and then situating them within an aesthetic and psychoanalytic framework, Refn and other filmmakers provide a visual showcase for a unique type of cinematic violence, one which demands that viewers reappraise the value of their own eyes as well as the values which reflect social attitudes towards law enforcement, crime, and justice.
By Damian Cox, Michael P. Levine
Abstract: This paper contrasts two forms of violence depicted in film: entertainment violence and moral violence. To a first approximation, moral violence is a form of interpersonal aggression aimed at causing moral injury. We claim that what distinguishes entertainment violence from moral violence is that entertainment violence is a satisfying or fitting object of morbid curiosity. Moral violence typically isn’t such a thing. We explore how moral violence works in two films of Michael Haneke: Funny Games (1997, 2007) and The White Ribbon (2009).
By Casey J. Wheatland
Abstract: This article examines the interrelated subjects of law, violence, progress, and civilization in three westerns from the American film director John Ford. Taken as a whole these three films, Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, equate civilization with the rule of law. Law is necessary to end the cycles of revenge and wanton violence depicted in the first two films. The final film is a meditation on the deliberate and violent elements of law, which must be combined in order to sustain a political community and provide the conditions for material, moral, and intellectual improvement.
By Seung-hoon Jeong
Abstract: Drawing on Walter Benjamin’s “Critique of Violence,” this paper illuminates the complexity of law and violence in global biopolitical cinema. Benjamin’s key notions (“lawmaking” and “law-preserving,” “mythical” and “divine” violence) are revisited through diverse films such as The Dark Knight series, Dogville, The Act of Killing, and Waltz with Bashir. The paper explores how the sovereign agents of killing here embody ‘pseudo-divine violence,’ posing ethical dilemmas about justice and life’s value. This analysis leads to the quest for ‘true divine violence’ without sovereign power and the sanctity of humanity believed only as potential to retain and relay.
By Jean-Marc Bourdin
Abstract: Incendies, Denis Villeneuve’s 2010 movie set against the background of a civil war in a Middle East country, tells of a mother’s quest for her abducted-at-birth child. To fulfil her will after her death, her two children must conduct an investigation to find a father and a brother they had not previously heard of. This narration raises several fundamental questions: the escalation of violence to extremes, whether from family, religion or politics; the necessity to give precedence to the victims’ point of view and to the victim/tormentor entanglement; the specificity of the promise as compared to desire; and the exceptionality of maternal and grand-maternal love in human relationships.
By Christine M. Ratzlaff
Abstract: Aristotle offers us a way to deal with potential tragedy in our lives by viewing it through the process of catharsis, which releases our fears through either purgation or purification. After a detailed account of Aristotle’s catharsis, I demonstrate both functions by applying the theory to three post-apocalyptic television programs: The Walking Dead, The 100, and Zoo, evaluating catharsis in the face of physical dangers, social threats, fear of the “other,” and fear of advancing technology, among other concerns. I also evaluate whether these programs simply normalize violence for the viewing audience.
By Erica von Essen, Michael Allen, Lara Tickle
Abstract: The seeming absence of mutual consent in interspecies sports makes it difficult to justify non-human animals participating on equal terms with humans in for example sport hunting. Nevertheless, hunted animals might appear to be ‘playing the game’ to the extent they resort to counter-deceptions, which often fool the hunters or their dogs. In this paper, we consider whether counter-deception by hunted animals is evidence that they are not playing the hunter’s game at all, or rather playing a different serious game of survival, one in which they repudiate the role of ‘worthy opponent’ instead by playing the role of trickster-resistors.
By Christian Roy
Abstract: A pioneer of political ecology, Bernard Charbonneau (1910-1996) viewed freedom and nature as jointly threatened by the “second nature” of technological society (whose critique by his friend Jacques Ellul owed much to him), defined by total mobilization as revealed in world wars as in industrial development. Its roots intertwine with those of the modern State made possible by the Christian distinction of the spiritual from the sacred violence inherent in religion and politics, returning unchecked in both guises. Charbonneau’s thought thus provides an ecological counterpoint to René Girard’s mimetic theory.