2017 - 2018

  Ethics and the Moving Image  
Biderman ShaiMexico - Arts120 Tue1000-1200 Sem  2
University credit hours:  2.0

Course description

The main aim of this course is to investigate and unveil the complex (yet intriguing) relations between film and ethics. In the pursuit of these relations, the course is divided to five sections:


ETHICS AND/OF FILM – in this section we will identify and define the two worlds in question, namely, the world of ethics and the world of visual moving images. Focusing on the former, we will begin by articulating the basic concepts of ethics (good, bad, evil, justice, wrongdoing, norm, relativism and universalism), the nature of ethical judgment and moral dilemmas, and the main moral theories and approaches (Virtue ethics, utilitarianism, deontology, existential ethics, etc.) we will then confront the ethical framework and dispositions with the nature and essential attributes of the visual world. Following this, we will investigate the ethical considerations, hazards and issues which are faced by the filmmaker (and other distinctive moral agents) in the process of film production, both on and off screen.

ETHICS IN FILM – in this section we intend to examine the ways (strategies, tactics and mechanisms) by which ethically charged concepts and issues are invoked in cinematic narratives and imagery.

FILM AS ETHICS – in this (somewhat revolutionary) section we will follow the works of contemporary philosophers and film theorists – such as: Siegfried Kracauer, Emmanuel Lévinas, Stanley Cavell, Gilles Deleuze, and D. N. Rodowick – in order to establish the claim that the cinematic phenomena itself, artistically performed and visually perceived, is (or should be) considered as an active embodiment of the ethical domain.

TEST CASES – in this final section we will employ and examine the previously discussed sections in the works of selected filmmakers (Tarantino, Haneke), and in selected genres (horror, documentary). 

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