Aesthetics of Slowness, Aesthetics of Boredom

Productivity and Tedium in the Cinema of Tsai Ming-liang

in Screen Bodies
Giulia Tronconi Postgraduate, University of Oxford, UK

Search for other papers by Giulia Tronconi in
Current site
Google Scholar
Restricted access


Within the contemporary discourse on slow cinema and independent arthouse filmmaking, emerges the figure of Malaysian-born, Taiwan-based director Tsai Ming-liang. His works, situated at a crossing between different forms of expression—film and installation, narrative film and ethnography—have often been deemed tiresome, boring. The following article explores where and how boredom may be identified in his films, and questions whether the languid feeling can be considered an aesthetic achievement. In particular, the article offers close textual analysis of I Don't Want to Sleep Alone (2006) and Days (2020). Leveraging on the personal quality of felt duration, these films attune the viewer to the possibility of wonder and encourage considerations of the embodied representation of profound emotions such as solitude, alienation, and melancholy.

Contributor Notes

Giulia Tronconi is an Italian postgraduate from the University of Oxford, where she was awarded a master of studies in Film Aesthetics with distinction. She also holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Warwick. Her research interests comprehend the international film festival circuit, contemporary arthouse cinema, and philosophy of aesthetics. ORCID:

  • Collapse
  • Expand

Screen Bodies

The Journal of Embodiment, Media Arts, and Technology

  • Agacinski, Sylviane, and Jody Gladding. 2003. Time Passing: Modernity and Nostalgia. Trans. Jody Gladding. New York: Columbia University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Alfieri, Alessandro. 2010. “La ‘Noia’ Come Categoria Estetica.Fata Morgana 12: 4758.

  • Bazin, André et al. 2005. What Is Cinema? New ed., University of California Press.

  • Çağlayan, Emre. 2018. Poetics of Slow Cinema: Nostalgia, Absurdism, Boredom. 1st ed., Palgrave Macmillan.

  • Çağlayan, Emre. 2014. “Screening Boredom: The History and Aesthetics of Slow Cinema”. University of Kent.

  • Charney, Leo. 1998. Empty Moments: Cinema, Modernity, and Drift. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Debruge, Peter. 2020. “‘Days’ Review: Tsai Ming-liang Puts Retirement on Pause for This Slow-Cinema Excursion.Variety, February 27. https://Variety.Com/2020/Film/Reviews/Days-Review-Tsai-Ming-Liang-Rizi-1203517345/ (accessed 23 May 2022).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Deleuze, Gilles. 1989. Cinema 2: The Time-Image. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Flanagan, Matthew. 2012. “‘Slow Cinema’: Temporality and Style in Contemporary Art and Experimental Film”. University of Exeter.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fox, Joshua Isaac. 2022. “Schopenhauer on Boredom.British Journal for the History of Philosophy 30 (3): 477495.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Haladyn, Julian Jason. 2015. Boredom and Art: Passions of the Will to Boredom. Portland, OR: Zero Books.

  • Hanich, Julian. 2011. Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers: The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear. New York: Routledge.

  • Heidegger, Martin, and Ingo Farin. 2011. The Concept of Time: The First Draft of Being and Time (Athlone Contemporary European Thinkers). London: Continuum.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Heidegger, Martin et al. 1962. Being and Time. Hoboken, NJ: Basil Blackwell.

  • Heidegger, Martin, and William McNeill. 1995. The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Koepnick, Lutz P. 2017. The Long Take: Art Cinema and the Wondrous. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

  • Martin, Adrian. 2007. “Review: I Don't Want to Sleep Alone.”, October. (accessed 26 May 2022).

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Misek, Richard. 2020. “Dead Time: Cinema, Heidegger, and Boredom.Continuum: Journal of Media & Cultural Studies 24 (5): 777785.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Mroz, Matilda. 2013. Temporality and Film Analysis. Edinburdgh: Edinburgh University Press.

  • Quaranta, Chiara. 2020. “A Cinema of Boredom: Heidegger, Cinematic Time and Spectatorship.Film-Philosophy 21 (1): 121.

  • Romney, Jonathan. 2010. “ In Search of Lost Time.Sight and Sound vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 4344.

  • Schleifer, Ronald. 2000. Modernism and Time: The Logic of Abundance in Literature, Science, and Culture, 1880–1930. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schoonover, Karl. 2012. “Wastrels of Time: Slow Cinema's Laboring Body, the Political Spectator, and the Queer.Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 53 (1): 6578.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Schoonover, Karl, and Rosalind Galt. 2016. Queer Cinema in the World. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

  • Schrader, Paul. 2018. Transcendental Style in Film: Ozu, Bresson, Dreyer: With a New Introduction: Rethinking Transcendental Style. Oakland: University of California Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Svendsen, Lars Fr H. and John Irons. 2005. A Philosophy of Boredom. London: Reaktion.

  • Toohey, Peter. 2011. Boredom: A Lively History. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.

  • Ming-Liang, Tsai. 2006. I Don't Want to Sleep Alone/Hei yan quan. Malaysia/Taiwan.

  • Ming-Liang, Tsai. 2020. Days/Rizi. Taiwan/France.

  • Rossellini, Roberto. 1948. Germania Anno Zero. Italy/Germany.

  • Rossellini, Roberto. 1950. Stromboli (Terra di Dio). Italy/USA.


All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 690 689 68
Full Text Views 31 31 2
PDF Downloads 38 38 3