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Title: Phantoms of the 'rive gauche' : mortality and intersubjectivity in the films of Agnès Varda, Alain Resnais, and Chris Marker
Author: Horner, Kierran Argent
ISNI:       0000 0004 7970 0615
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis constitutes a new ethical, film-philosophical approach to the films of the three rive gauche directors, Varda, Marker, and Resnais, in its analysis of images of death. My project foregrounds the notion of death in life that manifests itself in their films, exploring this idea through engagement with the philosophies of Jean-Paul Sartre, Emmanuel Levinas, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty in dialogue with other theorists and especially feminist philosophers. Chapter One investigates the paradox between the conflicted intersubjective encounter that typifies Sartre's early philosophical thought and the responsible relation between subjects in his postcolonial articles. I argue that death is a mitigating presence in these encounters in his work, which in turn informs spectatorial engagement with key early films by the directors that contemplate questions of war, illness, and mortality. Chapter Two interrogates the Levinasian theory of the feminine as Other through the idea of obligation to the Other via their mortality, analysing the positioning of feminine figures and death in select feminist films by Varda, Resnais's first fiction films, and documentaries by Marker that span his career. Chapter Three brings Merleau-Ponty's theses of embodied perception and chiasmic encounters into dialogue with other films by the three directors. It considers how death leads to an overlapping relation between the mortal characters in and the spectators of Resnais's documentaries on painters, a range of Varda's analogue and digital documentary films, and video and virtual works by Marker. Each chapter appraises key theories by one each of the trio of philosophers to identify and interrogate a deathly presence in particular filmic images of these rive gauche directors. The thesis primarily examines the interactions between subjects as they experience and take responsibility for one another's deaths. By engaging innovatively with theories of death's proximity to life and intersubjective encounters, this project advances ethically-minded moving-image studies of the works of Varda, Marker, and Resnais.
Supervisor: Cooper, Sarah Jane ; Vincendeau, Ginette Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available