Cinema and Language Loss
Displacement, Visuality and the Filmic Image
Routledge – 2013 – 286 pages
Cinema and Language Loss provides the first sustained exploration of the relationship between linguistic displacement and visuality in the filmic realm, examining in depth both its formal expressions and theoretical implications.
Combining insights from psychoanalysis, philosophy and film theory, the author argues that the move from one linguistic environment to another profoundly destabilizes the subject’s relation to both language and reality, resulting in the search for a substitute for language in vision itself – a reversal, as it were, of speaking into seeing. The dynamics of this shift are particularly evident in the works of many displaced filmmakers, which often manifest a conflicted interaction between language and vision, and through this question the signifying potential, and the perceptual ambiguities, of cinema itself.
In tracing the encounter between cinema and language loss across a wide range of films – from Billy Wilder’s Sunset Boulevard to Chantal Akerman’s News from Home to Michael Haneke’s Caché – Mamula reevaluates the role of displacement in postwar Western film and makes an original contribution to film theory and philosophy based on a reconsideration of the place of language in our experience and understanding of cinema.
"Cinema and Language Loss is an extremely original, brilliantly argued, and persuasively developed work. It is written with wonderful lucidity, authority, and power, accomplishments made even more impressive by the extreme complexity of its subject matter and critical approach… The author's work on Freud and Kristeva should do much to open a new field on the importance of semiotic and linguistic approaches to film studies. The book should establish an immediate place for itself in critical film theory and philosophy, but of even greater importance is the place it should establish for itself in the opening of this important new approach based on a reconsideration of the relationship to language of our understanding of film." --Sam B. Girgus, Vanderbilt University, USA
"[Cinema and Language Loss] takes a novel approach to the topic [of migrant cinema] and expands our notions of how linguistic displacement is experienced cinematically… Mamula is an erudite writer, who is also clear and persuasive in her argumentation. She marshals an impressive amount of theory - from Freudian psychoanalysis, Kristevan semiotics, Bergson, Deleuze, Pasolini and various other film theorists and practitioners - to develop an original approach to the role of language and visuality in processing perception and memory during dislocation from the familiar and known." --Eva Rueschmann, Hampshire College, USA
Introduction 1.When Images Begin to Sound: A Theoretical Framework 2. Language and Reification in the Émigré Film Noir 3. The The "Question of Language" in Postwar Italian Cinema 4. Linguistic Displacement and Sound-Image Disjunction 5. Linguistic Displacement and Uncanny Discourse Concluding Remarks
Tijana Mamula teaches Film Studies at John Cabot University in Rome, Italy.