What is it about?

Film viewers make sense of films first of all at a precognitive level, triggered by their bodily responses. The key notion here is movement: the movements of screen characters, the movements simulated by the viewers who perceive these characters, and the camera movements that mediate between the two. Coegnarts expands conceptual metaphor theory to account for film’s unique affordances to communicate embodied meaning, specifically focusing on Stanley Kubrick's work. Gallese's and Guerra buttresses embodied simulation by film viewers experimentally by demonstrating the workings of “mirror neurons.”

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Why is it important?

Film studies has long been one rooted in semiotics and cultural studies. But experiencing film is not only a matter of "culture"; it is first and foremost a matter of "nature." The two books under review focus on how film viewers cannot help but respond to film in a bodily manner. This cognitivist/embodied approach to film studies (for which the journal Projections is a good source) yields crucial insights into the medium.


In the last part of the paper I sketch how the books under review represent the growing influence, not just of cognitive film scholarship but of cognitive science in the humanities, discussing how the insights mesh with other work, specifically in conceptual metaphor theory.

Dr Charles Forceville
Universiteit van Amsterdam

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This page is a summary of: Watching Film with One's Body, Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, October 2020, Academic Studies Press, DOI: 10.26613/esic.4.2.193.
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