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Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema: A Sartrean Perspective

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Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema

A Sartrean Perspective

Edited by Jean-Pierre Boulé and Enda MacCaffrey

224 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-320-4 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (October 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-494-6 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (March 2014)

eISBN 978-0-85745-321-1 eBook


View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


One of the strengths of the volume overall is the breadth of approaches to and applications of Sartrean thinking, from the personal and political to the atheistic and artistic. There is also a refreshing selection of films under consideration…their edited collection is very welcome evidence in support of the proposition that thinking about Sartre and film together can produce stimulating and insightful film philosophy.”  ·  Journal of Contemporary European Studies

As someone who teaches both French cinema and existentialism courses, I would expect students of existentialism in particular to be enthusiastic about discussing this intersection of familiar concepts and such recent films. The essays are thoughtful, informed and illuminating. While some of the interpretations of the philosophy, and at times of Sartre’s imaginative texts, may be unorthodox, students and scholars will find much here with which to reflect and engage. Collectively, they certainly demonstrate the richness of an existentialist interrogation of meaning and purposefulness of action in the world, and the extent to which contemporary cinema continues to prove fertile material for philosophical enquiry.”  ·  H-France

"All of the essays here are fine pieces in their own right, and the collection certainly succeeds in its aim of showing the relevance of Sartre for the study of contemporary cinema. It whets the appetite for a more systematic consideration of what a Sartrean approach to cinema might be"  ·  Modern & Contemporary France

“[This volume] will provide a useful tool, in particular for students seeking to learn about Sartre and existentialism but also for students exploring the application of philosophy to the understanding of cinema.”  ·  Douglas Morrey, University of Warwick


At the heart of this volume is the assertion that Sartrean existentialism, most prominent in the 1940s, particularly in France, is still relevant as a way of interpreting the world today. Film, by reflecting philosophical concerns in the actions and choices of characters, continues and extends a tradition in which art exemplifies the understanding of existentialist philosophy. In a scholarly yet accessible style, the contributors exploit the rich interplay between Sartre’s philosophy, plays and novels, and a number of contemporary films including No Country for Old Men, Lost in Translation and The Truman Show, with film-makers including the Dardenne brothers, Michael Haneke, and Mike Leigh. This volume will be of interest to students who are coming to Sartre’s work for the first time and to those who would like to read films within an existentialist perspective.

Jean-Pierre Boulé is Professor of Contemporary French Studies at Nottingham Trent University and the author of a number of books, notably on Sartre, including Sartre médiatique (1992) and Sartre, Self-Formation and Masculinities (2005). He is the co-founder of the U.K. Sartre Society and executive editor of Sartre Studies International. He is coediting with Benedict O’Donohoe, Jean-Paul Sartre: Mind and Body, Word and Deed (2011) and preparing with Ursula Tidd a companion volume, Existentialism and Contemporary Cinema. A Beauvoirian Perspective (2013).

Enda McCaffrey is Professor of French Theory and Culture at Nottingham Trent University. He is the author of a number of books including The Gay Republic: Sexuality, Citizenship and Subversion in France (2005) and The Return of Religion in France: From Democratisation to Postmetaphysics (2009). He is has recently completed a new monograph entitled Bodies Without Organs: French Theory and Homosexuality (2015)

Subject: Film and Television Studies
Area: France


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