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Title: Ethics and politics in new extreme films
Author: Kenny, Oliver
ISNI:       0000 0004 8508 5356
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis investigates a corpus of controversial, mainly European films from 1998 to 2013, to determine which features have led to their critical description as ‘new extreme’ films and according to what ethical framework ‘new extreme’ films operate. These films feature provocative depictions of sex and violence, and have been decried as misogynistic, homophobic and racist. I contend, firstly, that the extremity in ‘new extreme’ films is best understood as an unresolved tension between opposites such as inside/outside and convention/transgression. This definition draws on work on the ‘extreme’ by sociologist Patrick Baudry and art historian Paul Ardenne. Secondly, I argue that these films employ an ethical framework based on confrontational aesthetic strategies which challenge dominant interpretations of images of sex and violence, a framework similar to the image-based ethics of Kaja Silverman, Petra Kuppers and Wendy Kozol. In this way, ‘new extreme’ films destabilise interpretations of images of women, pornography, nationhood, sex, violence, race and sexuality. This thesis contends that a definition of extremity based on unresolved tensions elucidates the specificity of ‘new extreme’ films whose opposites manifest themselves on formal, aesthetic, narrative, generic and political levels. I argue that these opposites can be linked to an image- based ethical framework, both of which are best understood by examining what is visible or obscured, how close to or distanced from the images we feel and for how long we endure the images. Exploring visibility and obscurity (Krzywinska, White), haptics and sensation (Beugnet, Marks), and ‘processive’ duration (Keeling), I contend that particular strategies of visibility, proximity and duration provoke visceral reactions of disgust, arousal, nausea and shock. Using shocking visibility and undecipherable obscurity, haptic close-ups and distanced long shots, rapid editing and extended takes, new extreme films undermine stable viewing positions thereby challenging our interpretations of images of sex and violence.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available