Blessed Are Those Who Are Seen? Incarnation as Cinema's Destiny

in Religion and the Arts
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Abstract

This paper takes as its point of departure theories that identify the look in cinema as disembodied, and it explores possibilities for theorizing the cinematic look as an incarnate look through an analysis and interpretation of the film Wings of Desire (dir. Wim Wenders, 1987). Film-theory texts are interpreted in the paper in terms of a lack of reciprocity between those who see and those who are seen in cinema, a lack that results in a theorization of the seeing subject's position as a position of physical absence. In contrast with the texts discussed, Wings of Desire is interpreted as offering an alternative way of imagining vision, a way that locates the seeing eye clearly within a human body of flesh and blood and thus implies the possibility of reciprocal looks. By exposing the film's metaphorical link between a film director and the main character of the film (the angel who becomes incarnate), I interpret the film director's look as an activity of creating, of ensuring that history takes place, and of maintaining relation.

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