There is Nothing Outside the Real: Recent Reappraisals of André Bazin in Film Theory [25 March 2015]

Crag Seminar
25 March 2015: Project Room 5.30 pm
50 George Square
University of Edinburgh


André Bazin’s critical work on film is often reduced to the clichés that he favoured long takes and championed realism as opposed to montage and artifice in the cinema. This position on Bazin has been the subject of recent critiques by Richard Rushton and Robert Sinnerbrink, building on Daniel Morgan’s “Rethinking Bazin” (2006). In this presentation, I will outline the terms of this new development and show that this “absolute realist” phase of understanding cinema is a return of sorts to Jacques Derrida’s analysis of textuality in the 1960s. For the New Bazinians, fiction film is as much as part of reality as anything else and I will develop this thought in the context of analytic philosophy’s understanding of “fictionalism”. I will discuss the films of Preston Sturges in this context. This is part of a broader project in which I explore the work of Derrida in relation to cinema.


Dr David Sorfa is a Senior Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Edinburgh and editor of the journal Film-Philosophy. He has written on Michael Haneke, Jan Švankmajer and Czech cinema as well as a broad range of other film subjects. He has particular interests in film-philosophy, phenomenology, the work of Jacques Derrida and film adaptation. He thinks that Freud is still worth reading.


feedback of the session:
We gathered 12 feedback sheets
30 participants, mostly students
20% of the other participants were not from the University

The ideas that the audience will remember: different levels of reality, dream as part of reality, and hallucination, our fantasy world, Everything is real, the key is experience, moving beyond the idea that movie represents reality

Most of the feedback sheets say that the interest for the session was high – the others said it was good

The background of the audience: film studies mostly, musicology student,

Some said the expected more lectures on philosophy, literature or mentally challenging talks – another wrote: just keep doing what you are doing…

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