What I meant by “feeling little” was close to feeling useless. Feeling like a piece of dust in the big room. It’s not all bad actually, feeling useless. It has good way and bad ways. You feel free and unuseable in a good way. But you feel empty in a bad way. It looks like something bad or solitary but it’s actually tied to the feeling of the sublime as you said. And you are totally right about the irony of ecstasy and meaninglessness. The bind of them really creates a mood of emptiness. A scene came to my mind when said those: Chair beating scene from “Gummo”. I felt both of those feelings while watching that scene and it made an effect beyond confusion. I didn’t thought why they were doing that. It was sadly entertaining. Those two feelings balanced themselves.
Actually I’m not interested in the Zen one or pureness and I’m not after a goal either. Who really knows what he’s after?
Bresson for me has always been existential. Perhaps not in a nihilist sense such as A Man who Sleeps (1974) but more of religious exitenstialism i.e. the question of one’s faith to God and the anxiety of it. Bergman and Antonioni have expressed a lot of existential themes in their films. Alienation, doubt, despair are all popular problems for existentialists. Most of their films have reflected Sarte’s humanistic existentialism and the Nietzsche’s core philosophies. So here are my picks for best existential films out there:
Diary of a Country Priest (1951) Pickpocket (1959)Trial of Joan of Arc (1962) Au Hazard Balthazar (1966) L’Argent (1983)
L’Avventura (1960)La Notte (1961)L’Eclisse (1962)
The Seventh Seal (1957)The Wild Strawberries (1957)Winter Light (1963)Persona (1966)
Other notable films:
Kairat (Darezhan Omirbayev , Kazakhstan, 1992)
Noite Vazia (Walter Hugo Khouri, Brazil, 1964) – a bit Antonioni
Heremias (Lav Diaz, Philippines, 2006)
Death in the Land of Encantos (Lav Diaz, Philippines, 2007)
Melancholia (Lav Diaz, Philippines, 2008)
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I would pick Woman in the Dunes as an existentialist film. How about L’Avventura?
The post two above is full of great recommendations. Actually, the majority of films listed so far are really fantastic. As someone recommended prior, Synecdoche, New York is probably the most notable existential film of recent years (also one of my favorites in general—though well disputed…but I digress). Kubrick’s Paths of Glory is generally brought up during these discussions, though I don’t believe anyone’s mentioned it yet.
Essentially, check out those two and then pretty much any French New Wave (Truffaut, Godard obvious choices here) touch upon the topic of nothingness, but also Bergman’s The Seventh Seal and Kurosawa’s Ikiru.
Also, you may want to check out I Heart Huckabees, a comedy about existential detectives. I am rather fond of it, but I know that some are not.
Paths of Glory explores the human condition and how war runs contrary to the idea of objectivity.
Tarkovsky also explores this quite a bit, so he’s another good place to start.
Some nice lists here. Un Homme Qui Dort is a demonstration of bad faith. It’s not nihilistic. You just have to seperate the fictional protagonist from the author.
Proust – “When a man is asleep, he has in a circle around him the chain of the hours, the sequence of the years and worlds”. He is in a state somewhere between sleeping and awakefulness, half conscious, dulled of senses, and a failure to find essence – living in Sartre’s bad faith and struggling with Camus’ absurdity.
Ultimately, his attempts of any revolt against the nature of the human condition are a failure. In this case it is not the “gentle indifference of the world” that reveals itself to him, but the inescapability of time. “Would have had time stopped altogether, but no one is strong enough our fight against time”. “Time, which watches over all, has given the solution in spite of you. Time, who knows the response, a continuous flow”. The kind of modernist void that Robbe-Grillet floated in.
There’s no Sisyphean hero here. It’s just a total failure to accept responsibility and demonstrates an inability to create essence when there is ‘no exit’. How this is interpreted comes down the Will. It could be as per Schopenhauer and Zen philosophy, a negation of Will. In my book, it’s more likely to be a demonstration of bad faith with some political extras.
Something that always has to be made clear when you’re talking about Camus and The Stranger – there is not just one accepted conception of what makes Mersault a Hero, an antithetical Byronic hero and basically a braindead Idiot. Some people believe that he acted in a way that was intended to be a model for morality. This is not completely not true.
It does not mean that you can go around shooting Arabs even if he was all nihilistic and honest about it. Only at the end does he become a hero.
If you are looking for something more in line with Sartre’s version of good faith where essence and identity is found after the acceptance of existence, you could try Woman In The Dunes.
If you are looking for failed Ubermensch with a Will to Power then there is Aguirre, The Wrath of God or other Herzog characters like Woodcarver Steiner where many of his jumps tragically leave with him with his legs behind his head and his arms wrapped around his legs. We are more in the realm of poetry there though.
There is also always Terrence Malick with a “life world” type of film. After this I think we are going more into a theological musing where you might have some sort of Cartesian doubt, usually in a sci fi fantasy attempted to be resolved by a hero – Matrix, Blade Runner, Inception – so not really nihilist. I think Tarkovsky attempts more to reveal a sense of the sublime as opposed to a “leap of faith” where Bergman would be appropriate. Will have to leave Bresson for another day.
Sorry my lists of films are not very inspired but some elaboration is always useful needed for those of us who have not studied philosophy, right? The American version of existentialism would be hard boiled crime fiction and film noir and in England the Angry Young Men – so let’s not get too metaphysical here and all Kubrick here.
Sonny, i wouldn’t say Aguirre is an “Ubermensch”, he is indeed a man and not an over-man. Aguirre is a tragic film, Nietzsches philosophy is tragic, his overman is the kind of being who comes out of tragedy’s deconstruction of “man”.
Yeah, Aguirre is quixotic. Fallen from grace.
I heart Huckabees
Requiem for a Dream
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Truman Show
And I agree with Adrianmendizabal’s suggestions. You should watch those Lav Diaz’ films.
yes definitely robert bresson, or terrence malick for more ‘texty’, and since you from turkey, im gonna take a very wild guess here that you know Rumi, and if you like his magical poetry then you might like terrence malick too.
oh yes, Antonioni’s The Passenger for sure.
The Seventh Seal
Through A Glass Darkly
The Double Life of Veronique
The Tree of Life
You mean Mevlana Celalleddin Rumi right? :) well of course. I wouldn’t think making connections between him and Malick. But when I think of it,yes, you’re right. (Actually even this is an example of his philosophy.Similarity between people who are far from themselves physically.) Especially “The Thin Red Line” for me. (just because I haven’t seen “Tree of Life” yet.)
Surprised no one here has mentioned Andrei Tarkovsky. To me, he’s the first person I think of when the term ‘existentialism’ comes up in film. There’s just about anything Charlie Kaufman does, also Christopher Nolan – if you’re looking to explore those themes in a more mainstream manner (Memento, Inception, even the Batman trilogy, as it’s all about defining who Bruce Wayne/Batman is). There’s the aforementioned Bergman and also a lot of Coen Brother films as well.
A truly existentialist film that I can highly recommend is Melville’s Army of Shadows
Tarkovsky was hardly an existentialist. And Nolan? as it’s all about defining who Bruce Wayne/Batman is There’s a lot more to it than that. He definitely isn’t either.
A film to stay away from would be the 1960s version of The Stranger by Camus. Must be one of the worst “art” films ever made.
The Outside Man
Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia
The Killing of a Chinese Bookie
Year of the Dragon
The Hired Hand
The Hunting Party
Electra Glide in Blue
The American Friend
Out of the Blue
Carl Th. Dreyer
Lars von Trier
…just to name a few to recommend on Exisitential Films
Existentialist Philosophy 101: The Parallel Street (Ferdinand Khittl, 1962)
Otherwise, existentialism makes me think of aimless drifters stuck in claustrophobic cities which somehow emphasize the apathetic distance between oneself and society…Seagulls Die in the Harbour (Kuypers/Michiels/Verhavert, 1955)Identification Marks: None (Jerzy Skolimowski, 1964)São Paulo S/A (Luís Sérgio Person, 1965)The Margin (Ozualdo Candeias, 1967)Little Valentino (András Jeles, 1979)The Liar (Mika Kaurismäki, 1981)Happy Days (Aleksey Balabanov, 1991)Naked (Mike Leigh, 1993)
This thread is relevant to my interests.
Five Easy Pieces (the godfather of modern existentialism)Lost in Translation (well all of Sofia’ films really)The AmericanOld JoySilent SoulsPather PanchaliGeorge WashingtonWeekendDrive (how has this not been mentioned?)MoonPoetryWaking LifeMagnoliaYou, the LivingHenry Poole is HereThe Edge of Heaven
G-LEGS, I’m sorry but how is Tarkovsky hardly an existentialist? Stalker bleeds existentialism in almost every frame.
Orson Welles’ “The Trial”