Modernist Embodiment

Sisyphean Landscape Allegory in Cinema

in Screen Bodies
David Melbye School of Advanced Studies, University of Tyumen, Russia

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This article embarks from George Lakoff and Mark Johnson's embodied understanding of metaphor in linguistic contexts and proceeds beyond merely an extended notion of “visual” metaphor toward an operational understanding of the term “allegory” in the cinematic context. Specifically, a pattern of Sisyphean landscape allegory in a global array of postwar narrative cinema is identified and explored, in which a psychologically conflicted protagonist struggles against a resistant natural landscape, connoting varying degrees of existential “futility.” The recurrent experiential configuration of this modernist allegory on screen, especially in terms of its haptic dimensions, is explored for its ability to “invoke” social critique—as felt, visceral content.

Contributor Notes

David Melbye earned his doctorate in Cinema and Television from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts. He has since taught a broad range of media studies and production courses in a variety of universities and institutions both in the United States and abroad, including at the Royal Film Commission in Jordan, as a Fulbright Fellow. Melbye has published two academic monographs, one on the psychological use of landscape in cinema, and the other on use of irony as social critique in the classic television series The Twilight Zone. He is currently a professor in the School of Advanced Studies at the University of Tyumen in Russia.

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Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology


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