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How Motion Shapes Thought in Cinema

The Embodied Film Style of Éric Rohmer

Maarten Coëgnarts

Abstract

This article provides an embodied study of the film style of the French filmmaker Éric Rohmer. Drawing on insights from cognitive linguistics, I first show how dynamic patterns of containment shape human thinking about relationships, a concept central to Rohmer's cinema. Second, I consider the question of how film might elicit this spatial thinking through the use of such cinematic devices as mobile framing and fixed-frame movement. Third, using Rohmer's Comedies and Proverbs series as a case study, I demonstrate how the filmmaker applies these devices—and with them the spatial thinking they initiate—systemically to shape the relationships of his films visually. Lastly, I use the results of this analysis to provide discussion and suggestions for future research.

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Maarten Coëgnarts and Peter Kravanja

This article examines embodied visual meaning in film, the ways that film makes use of recurring dynamic patterns of our shared bodily interactions with the world (image schemas) to communicate abstract meaning to the viewer. Following the lead of recent discoveries in the field of neuroscience, the article argues that this metaphorical transference of abstract thought by means of image schemas is possible via the activation of embodied mirroring mechanisms in the observer. This empathetic and physical encounter of the viewer with the representational content and form of the work is crucial to the understanding of abstract conceptual thought in film.

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Seeing Yourself in the Past

The Role of Situational (Dis)continuity and Conceptual Metaphor in the Understanding of Complex Cases of Character Perception

Maarten Coëgnarts, Miklós Kiss, Peter Kravanja, and Steven Willemsen

Abstract

This article examines the role of situational (dis)continuity and conceptual metaphor in the cinematic construal of complex cases of character perception. It claims that filmed events of the script “a character S seeing something O” can impede the continuity of real-life perception by eliciting discontinuity along two situational dimensions—the temporal dimension (i.e., one cannot directly see events in the past or the future), and the entity dimension (i.e., one cannot see oneself in the act of looking). The article concludes with a case study of Christopher Smith’s Triangle (2009) as an example of contemporary complex narrative cinema.