It is a widespread intuition among cinephiles – variously formulated and argued for by philosophers in both the Analytic and the Continental camps – that films, at their best, not only illustrate some previously existing notions, but prove to be an originary and culturally indispensable medium of thought. The role of philosophical film criticism, accordingly, is to follow the meaning of particular films and articulate it in discourse. One of the subjects to which the thought of cinema is most consistently dedicated throughout its short history – and increasingly so, I would argue, in the 21st century – is romantic love. To be sure, this phenomenon hasn’t escaped the attention of professional philosophy as well, which – from Plato to the Society for the Philosophy of Sex and Love – have pursued it on a variety of speculative and phenomenological grounds. But if cinema indeed possesses the thought-generating power we feel it to have, what would be its possible contribution to this ongoing investigation? What can cinema teach us – in a way that might be foreclosed to the purely theoretical modes of philosophizing – about the phenomenon that defines our existence to such a great extent? How to practice film-criticism as philosophy of love? The lecture will answer these questions, following in the footsteps of the French philosopher Alain Badiou, whose intertwined theories of love and film, as I argue, lay the ground for a systematic methodology of such critical practice. The central tenets of this methodology will be demonstrated with recourse to two exemplary works of romance: Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) and Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, accessed through its iconic cinematic interpretation by Franco Zeffirelli (1968).
Pioter Shmugliakov is a lecturer at the Multidisciplinary Department of Tel-Hai College, Israel. He obtained a PhD from Tel Aviv University in 2019, defending a dissertation on Heidegger’s philosophy of art. Until recently he has been a post-doctoral fellow at the Institute of Philosophy of Freie Universität Berlin, publishing his research in aesthetics and philosophy of love in such journals as Journal of Aesthetics and Culture, Southern Journal of Philosophy, and Logos. Shmugliakov is also the author of two published books of poetry – as well as some experimental photopoetic works – in Russian and Hebrew, under the pen name Petia Ptah.