Joining numerous other titles on philosophy and film, this book presents essays loosely organized around the principle of transcendence. In his introduction, Nichols (philosophy, Saginaw Valley State Univ.) admits that “the ten [essays] can be rather disparate with respect to working out what transcendence means” (p. 3). Indeed, the essays take disparate approaches to both philosophy and film and may be regarded as disparately successful. The directors discussed are all canonical: Lynch, Herzog, Cronenberg, Malick, Ozu, Fellini, Scorsese, Dreyer, Kubrick. On the philosophy side are Continental philosophers such as Kierkegaard, Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze with Jaspers making several key appearances. Among a number of rewarding essays, the standout is perhaps “Transcendence and Tragedy in My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done,” a meditation by Herbert Golder, the co-writer of the Herzog film and a professor of classical studies at Boston University. Almost every other contributor is a philosophy professor, and all do a uniformly good job of making their sophisticated arguments comprehensible to a wider audience.
Summing Up: Recommended. . . Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.— Choice
[T]he vibrancy and importance of the discussion concerning transcendence is on full display. . . . Particularly influential in these essays is Karl Jaspers’ phenomenology of liminal experiences, but Nichols’ essayists also put selected films into conversation with Husserl, Merleau-Ponty, Kierkegaard, Heidegger, Deleuze and Badiou. In each case, whether viewing the films of Dreyer, Ozu, Herzog, Lynch, Malick, Scorsese, Kubrick,or Schrader himself, the filmmakers chosen are said to not simply be artists inviting philosophical analysis, they are, instead ,doing philosophy itself as they invite a two-way philosophical conversation.