Film-Philosophy Conference, Film-Philosophy Conference 2012

What constitutes a cinematic event?

William John Robert Campbell Brown


In Cinema 2 (2005), Gilles Deleuze says that inside an event ‘there is no longer a future, present, or past in succession, in accordance with the explicit passage of presents we make out’ (Deleuze 2005: 97). Instead, within the event itself, ‘there is a present of the future, a present of the present and a present of the past, all implicated in the event, all rolled up in the event, and thus simultaneous and inexplicable’ (Deleuze 2005: 97). 

Alain Badiou (2007), meanwhile, argues that events ‘interrupt’ being. An event for Badiou occurs when ‘something happens which escapes thought’; it is an ‘unforeseen happening… Unlike Deleuze for whom the event as Aeon is the “pure empty form of time” – “Always already passed and eternally yet to come” – for Badiou the event marks a definite break in the situation and heralds a true phase in history’ (Barker 2002: 6).

In this paper I shall look at both of Deleuze and Badiou’s conceptions of the event and ask the question: what constitutes a cinematic event? I shall also draw upon theories of the event, of quasi-causes, and of fractals from contemporary physics to negotiate further this question, arguing that cinematic events perhaps lie somewhere between Badiou and Deleuze’s thought, in that every moment in cinema might constitute an event, be they seemingly ‘empty’ or ‘full’ moments.

Only abstracts are available on this site

About the Presenter

William John Robert Campbell Brown
Roehampton University
United Kingdom

William Brown is a Lecturer in Film at the University of Roehampton, London. He is, with Dina Iordanova and Leshu Torchin, the author of Moving People, Moving Images: Cinema and Trafficking in the New Europe (St Andrews Film Studies, 2010), and the editor, with David Martin-Jones, of Deleuze and Film (EUP, 2012). He is also the author of Supercinema: Film Theory in the Digital Age (Berghahn, forthcoming). He has published articles and essays in a number of places, including New Review of Film and Television Studies, Deleuze Studies, Third Text, Studies in European Cinema, Studies in French Cinema, and animation: an interdisciplinary journal.