This section continues with a phenomenological analysis of the expansive (Study One) and multi-layered (Nine) life-world as discussed in the previous results and discussion section. The succeeding six analysis sections – (2) ‘internal currents’, (3) ‘immanent patterns’, (4) ‘eidetic formations’, (5) ‘insatiable curiosity’, (6) ‘conscious observation’, and (7) ‘call to action’ – in the manuscript will follow the same pattern. Before we proceed to the phenomenological analysis, the next paragraphs will briefly introduce the far-reaching points in Husserlian phenomenology that will be used throughout the succeeding sections.
Eidetic intuition makes essences come into view for us through ‘three levels of intentional development’ (Sokolowski, 2000, p. 177). On the first level, we find similarities among a number of things that we experience (p. 177). Let us take ‘the street’, which is the pro-filmic subject matter of Study Seven: The Street (Fig. 19), as an example for phenomenological analysis. First, we try to establish a ‘typicality’ (p. 178) of the street, in line with, say, ‘wood floats’ or ‘dogs bite’ (p. 177): ‘streets take us from one point to another’. On the second level of the phenomenological investigation, we look at individual pieces and see if they have the same predicate; for example, Wood A floats and so does Wood B and Wood C. At this second level, that ‘Wood floats’ is a kind of ‘identity synthesis’ (p. 178) in which we recognise the individual pieces of wood as ‘not just similar, but the very same, a “one in many”’ (p. 178). Going back to the main object under investigation, that is, the street, we can say that its predicate of being a conduit wherein human beings move from one point to another is an ‘empirical universal’ because all the instances in which we have found the predicate are things we have actually experienced’ (p. 178).
As put on view by the last two phenomenological analysis sections – the daily matrix and internal currents – the short films epitomise a realist film practice that leads spectators to an eidetic intuition of the life-world, one’s place in it, and his or her existential experience of the modern condition. The current section analyses the indeterminacy of the concrete image as the principal factor that enhances the free nature of the contemplation typified by the previous examples of spectators’ reflections.
Aside from being an examination of the flow of life KCR trope as discussed in the previous section, Study Eight is also a phenomenological investigation on the essence of city life. The film draws on the power of the film medium to photographically capture surface detail of an array of pro-filmic objects from physical reality. This core aspect of the medium can be said to be a cinematic counterpart of the phenomenological method which involves ‘careful, elaborate description of our experience’ (Käufer & Chemero, 2015, p. 26) that reveals their essential features; indeed, Husserl consistently avowed that ‘essences are evident in the experiences themselves once we know how to look for them’ (p. 26).
Husserl’s phenomenological approach regards the life-world as ‘not something over and against the subject’ (Gander, 2017, p. 116); thus, the ‘clarification of the connection of life can only take place in the form of a self-contemplation or self-enlightenment’ (p. 116). In phenomenology, the intentional consciousness is the focal point of ‘how we experience our selves and how we experience things outside our selves, that is, all that is non-self’ (Wagner, 1983, p. 9). While positivist discourse might find this vantage point of consciousness as problematic – psychology has opted to replace experience with ‘behavior’ because of the latter’s externality and observability (Ihde, 1990, p. 22) – phenomenology does not limit itself to the parameters set by positivism as it opens itself to profundity, which, ‘science wants to transform into a cosmos, into a simple, completely clear, lucid order’ (Husserl, 1965, p. 144).
by Jose Gutierrez III
Five characteristics of the phenomenalist-realist film were identified by Ian Aitken in The Major Realist Film Theorists: A Critical Anthology (2016) : (1) perceptually realistic; (2) disinterested; (3) nature-like; (4) feeling-oriented; and (5) flowing. In the current essay, I flesh out each of these attributes by expounding on their philosophical influences – particularly Kantian aesthetics – and explicating them through selected works from world cinema.
by Jose Gutierrez III
Seven tropes from the realist film theory of Siegfried Kracauer are presented in this essay. Selected works from world cinema re used to illustrate the discussion.
Investigating Kracauerian Cinematic Realism through Film Practice and Criticism: Life-world Series (2017) and Selected Films of Lino Brocka
by Jose Gutierrez III
Note: This is an excerpt from my PhD dissertation, ‘Investigating Kracauerian Cinematic Realism through Film Practice and Criticism: Life-world Series (2017) and Selected Films of Lino Brocka’ (2018), which is available for download from the institutional repository. In 2020, my book chapter — Cinematic Contemplation Online: The Art and Philosophy of Life-world Series (2017) — based on this dissertation was published in: Kung K.WS. (ed.) Reconceptualizing the Digital Humanities in Asia. Digital Culture and Humanities (Challenges and Developments in a Globalized Asia), vol 2: 31-52. Singapore: Springer.
This final section presents the summary of the findings and conclusions of the study in three major aspects: (1) a prospective model of cinematic realism that resulted from the project’s phenomenological approach in investigating Kracauerian cinematic-realist film aesthetics; (2) an account of reckoning the Husserlian notion of the Lebenswelt which Aitken (2006) specified to be ‘a key to understanding Kracauer’s assertion that “physical reality” can be redeemed through cinema’ (Wils, 2016, p. 76); and (3) the implications and findings of using film practice and criticism as tools in examining Kracauerian cinematic realism (KCR). Lastly, this section will propose recommendations for further research into the subject using both written and film-based means.
by Jose Gutierrez III
Siegfried Kracauer was ‘as much a social scientist as a film theorist’ (Armstrong, 2007, p. 62). This is evident not just in Theory of Film: The Redemption of Physical Reality (Kracauer, 1960) but also in his (1) articles and reviews as a ‘practical film critic of the Frankfurter Zeitung’ (Petro, 1991, p. 131) of the 1920s and early 1930s; (2) in his book on ‘film sociology’ (Elsaesser, 1987, p. 67), From Caligari to Hitler: A Psychological Study of the German Film (Kracauer, 1947); and (3) in History, The Last Things before the Last (1969).