Deleuze, Concepts, and Ideas about Film as Philosophy: A Critical and Speculative Re-Examination




Deleuze, concepts, film-philosophy, film as philosophy, Godard


This article explores the idea of film as a possible means for articulating original philosophical concepts, in Gilles Deleuze’s sense of concepts. The first of two parts, critically re-examines current ideas about film as philosophy in relation to Deleuze’s ideas on philosophy and cinema/art. It is common within the field of film-philosophy to trace back its central argument that film/cinema is capable of expressing original philosophy, to Deleuze’s cinema books. In and around these books, however, Deleuze did not express such an idea and rather underlined sharp formal differences between cinematic thinking and philosophy (however much he also described and implied proximities and similarities). Cinematic thinking takes the form, he argues, of blocks of movement/duration whereas philosophy is defined as the art of creating concepts. Still, could a close critical scrutiny of and some creativity with Deleuze’s thought allow for taking a step he did not take? The second part of the article takes on the speculative question of whether it is possible to create a notion from within Deleuze’s thought as a whole, that allows for at least the theoretical possibility of articulating original philosophical concepts – as Deleuze defines them (as a particular kind of multiplicity) – in and through film, and what this would mean for our understanding of the concrete form of concepts. The article examines Deleuze’s concept of concepts (how he defines their internal logic and by which formal means he implies that they can be articulated), his descriptions of complicating intersections between philosophy and art, some partly conflicting statements on Godard over the years, aspects of his analyses of filmic thinking in Cinema 2 that can be seen to provide preliminary components for articulating concepts in and through film, and it discusses the place and function of words and texts in such filmic articulations. If the aim of the first part is to clarify Deleuze’s positions on film and philosophy (often muddled in current film-philosophical writings) the aim of the second part resonates with the Deleuzian/Nietzschean quest for formal renewal of philosophy. The overall aim is to re-problematize and provide subtle new means for conceiving of and discussing the notion of film as philosophy.

Author Biography

Jakob Nilsson, Örebro University

Jakob Nilsson is a researcher and Assistant Professor/Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the Department of Media and Communication Studies, Örebro University. He is currently concluding a 3-year project funded by The Swedish Research Council on theory-driven, essayistic film, and specializes on certain intersections of film and philosophy with emphasis on Deleuze. He has published articles in Theory, Culture & Society; Cinema. Journal of Philosophy and Moving Image; Cinema & Cie. International Film Studies Journal; Journal of Aesthetics and Culture; Rhizomes; and SITE Magazine. He is the editor, together with Sven-Olov Wallenstein, of the anthology Foucault, Biopolitics, and Governmentality (2013).