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Title: Michael Haneke's critical aesthetic and the ethics of film spectatorship
Author: Wheatley, Catherine
ISNI:       0000 0000 3690 0837
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2007
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Responses to Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke's work are laden with ethical inflections - as is expressed in the critical reception of the films. However, existing critical traditions fail to fully account for the impact of Haneke's oeuvre, situated as it is between int~llectual projects and popular entertainments. For while philosophy and film studies have for some years now been intersecting, the ethics of spectatorship remains critically understudied. More significantly, previo~s approaches to the subject of ethics and film have tended to focus on the morality 'of the diegetic universe within a film, using film to illustrate philosophical concepts (Carney, 1986; Brill, 1988) or to raise questions of ideology and film form, mobilising ethics primarily in service of political concerns (Mulvey, 1973; Wollen, 1979). In order to discuss Haneke's films then, and to understand the peculiar impact they have upon their audiences, a new critical framework is needed; one which straddles, but also moves beyond, existing frameworks. Drawing on the moral philosophy of Immanuel Kant and Stanley Cavell, this thesis introduces a new way of marrying film and moral philosophy, which explicitly examines the ethics of the filmviewing experience. Taking Haneke's films as the object of empirical inquiry, it posits the theory that by foregrounding a conflict between activity and passivity, reason and emotion, which is implicit in the great majority of spectatorship theory, Haneke is able to offer the spectator a filmviewing position that is radically different to that in which other models offilmmaking place him. Rationally aware of his subjective position but nonetheless engaged with the film's events, the spectator of Haneke's films is forced to negotiate his relationship to the film autonomously. The unprecedented freedom that Haneke's films accord him thus carries with it a considerable burden of responsibility which refuses him any possibility of seeking refuge from the world in the darkness of the cinema. How Haneke achieves this break with more conventional spectatorship models, and what its far-reaching implications are for film theory in general, constitute the principle subject ofthis study.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: OXFORD UNIVERSITY, 2007 Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available