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 Reviews
[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. — Journal of Religion and Film
Transcendence and Film: Cinematic Encounters with the Real offers an engagingly philosophical insight on the thoughtful ways the world of moving images challenges our metaphysical and ontological notions of transcendence. The chapters assembled in this volume launch the reader into an intellectually stimulating, yet comprehensibly enjoyable journey, which unfolds both the experience of viewing transcendence and the charm of philosophizing it. As worded in the introduction, motion picture’s ability to “crack open the sky of our world” and the vast impact motion picture culture has on the way we philosophize our worldly existence, is a timely opportunity to work out what transcendence means and how it is effected by the collision between film and philosophy. The collection at hand makes a convincing case for this collision, and it is surely to become an important landmark in the field.— Shai Biderman, Tel Aviv University and Beit-Berl College
This fascinating collection of essays, focusing on the relationship between cinema and transcendence, opens up new ways of thinking through the film-philosophy relationship. With impressive contributions from noted philosophers and phenomenologists, and dealing with a range of films from Mulholland Drive and Badlands to eXistenZ, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Silence, Transcendence and Film brings questions of film art, existential meaning, and contemplative experience to the forefront of philosophical reflection on cinema today.— Robert Sinnerbrink, Macquarie University
This is a very fine collection of essays on how, in the hands of gifted artists, transcendence can be brought down to earth and placed before our eyes. Transcendence and Film occasions a truly fruitful encounter between a group of insightful philosophers of film and some of the most philosophically-minded filmmakers that there are.— Costica Bradatan
Of all the sub-fields in philosophy, none has greater relevance or urgency than 'philosophy and film.' The primary medium of communication today is visual, and philosophy is above all about communication as Jaspers reminded us. The critical essays in this collection by David Nichols, Transcendence and Film, make a distinctive contribution to this need, and especially to film's ability to speak transcendentally and immanently through a cipher script.— Alan M. Olson, Boston University