Death as Film-Philosophy’s Muse: Deleuzian Observations on Moving Images and the Nature of Time

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This article explores the affinities between film and philosophy by returning to a shared meditation on death and the nature of time. Death has been considered the muse of philosophy and can also be considered the muse of film-philosophy.
But what does it mean to say that to film-philosophise is to learn to die, or a kind of training for dying? Film is an artistic object that reminds us of death’s inevitability; it is a meditation on the transient and finite nature of time. Films as diverse as Mizoguchi’s Tales of Ugetsu, Resnais’s Hiroshima mon Amour, and
Guzmán’s Nostalgia for the Light take an uncanny approach to the subject, expressing the paradoxical coexistence of life and death and of different temporal dimensions. This article explores the philosophical concept of the death-image and time through a Deleuzian approach to cinema, meditating on the flashback,
the coexistence of the present and the past, and the emergence of a new type of Lazarean character – one who returns from the dead. The article aims to clarify not simply death’s unquestionable omnipresence in film but also cinema’s role as a contemporary version of the trope of memento mori.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)222-239
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Gilles Deleuze
  • Death-image
  • Time
  • Lazarean characters
  • Memento mori


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