- Negative Feelings as Emotional Enhancement in Cinema: The Case of Ulrich Seidl's Paradise Trilogy
- Book title
- The Palgrave Handbook of Posthumanism in Film and Television
- Pages (from-to)
- Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis (ASCA)
In everyday life, negative feelings such as shame, horror and disgust, are emotions one rather wants to discard than to cherish. Just think of the way in which people aspire at ‘improving’ their emotional makeup by means of Prozac and other mood enhancers in order to get rid of their undesirable emotions. In cinema things are different. We regularly seek out negative experiences by watching emotionally unpleasant films such as Repulsion (Polanski, 1966), Salò (Pasolini, 1978), or Funny Games (Haneke, 1997). It would be much too easy to suggest that such experiences are moments of passive, masochistic spectatorship. True, we feel overwhelmed when we experience negative feelings in the cinematic experience. But this is less proof of the spectator’s masochistic passivity, than an indicator of cinema’s material agency. It is this agency that forcefully encounters the spectators, challenging them to think, often with and through their ethical consciousness. This paper argues that negative feeling in cinema often results in emotional enhancement, because it provides intensified engagement with and attention to affective, bodily, sensory, and sexual experiences, with important ethical dimensions. In the discussion special attention will be paid to Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise-Trilogy: Love, Faith, and Hope (2012-2013).
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