Film-Philosophy Conference, Film-Philosophy Conference 2012

An Exploration of Temporality, Subjectivity and Death in 'Moon'

Ruth McPhee


The starting point for this paper revolves around the question of what happens when the subject encounters their own death - not just as a distant but inevitable event, but as an immanent, urgent spectre. It will look at this in relation to the science-fiction film Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009), which engages with this in the context of a post-human narrative about cloning and identity. There will be a emphasis here not only on what might be termed the psychological ramifications, but also on the body of the subject. Throughout the film, one version of ‘Sam’ is forced to witness the physical and psychical decaying of his other self, which also foreshadows his own future deterioration. Although the film follows a linear chronology, this is structured in such a way as to create a cyclical experience of temporality; this, combined with the identical appearances of the cloned ‘Sams’, gives the unsettling experience of a subject watching their own death - present, past and future are collapsed around these unstable bodies. 


A concern with how to approach and conceptualise death has been one of the most persistent areas of concern within philosophical enquiry; however, my approach here will move away from more traditional approaches to mortality and instead explore these themes with recourse to Julia Kristeva’s work on depression and mourning in Black Sun (particularly the idea of the subject who exists in ‘a living death’), and Felix Guattari’s reformulations of subjectivity in Chaosmosis. If time allows reference may also be made to other recent films Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007) and Triangle (Christopher Smith, 2009), which engage with similar anxieties about the confrontation between the subject and their own death. 

Only abstracts are available on this site

About the Presenter

Ruth McPhee
Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge