The Dimensions of Difference departs from traditional takes on feminist film criticism, and in particular from the psychoanalytical focus on the gaze, to examine the question of sexual difference through three axes: space, time, and bodies. These are some of the most fundamental elements of cinema, which deploys the bodies of actors through space and time, for instance, through camerawork and editing.
While this approach may not at first sight seem to be related to questions of gender and sexuality, Caroline Godart demonstrates its relevance to feminist film studies by weaving together careful analyses of space, time, and bodies in women’s cinema with close readings of the same concepts in the works of three philosophers: Luce Irigaray, Henri Bergson, and Gilles Deleuze. The book investigates how certain films generate a cinematic experience of sexual difference, and frames this analysis within a careful philosophical inquiry into the notion of alterity itself. These tools provide fruitful resources for feminist inquiry, giving insights into sexual difference as it operates within film aesthetics and, beyond cinema, in the world at large. The result is a compelling reflection on feminism, film form, and continental philosophy.
Introduction / 1. The Feminist Distance: Space in Jane Campion’s The Piano / 2. Claire Denis and the Flow of Time: Beau Travail / 3. Time and Difference: Love in Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day / 4. Lucrecia Martel and the Curious Body in The Holy Girl / Conclusion / Bibliography / Index
The Dimensions of Difference is like a breath of fresh air in contemporary film theory. Caroline Godart thinks hard about what movies do, and how they affect us. Her book offers us both a series of close readings of major films by currently active women directors, and a sustained meditation on how cinema reworks, and enriches, our fundamental experiences of time, space, and embodiment.
In this beautifully written and thoughtful interrogation of the constitution of space, time and bodies through sexual violence, Godart represents a new orientation in feminist film theory and analysis; one attuned to questions of affect, energy and sexuality as they link and unlink different bodies, providing a way of understanding cinema as an opening up of new relations between sexes, races, classes and empires. A moving and astute intervention into film theory and feminist philosophy.
Caroline Godart is a Scientific Collaborator at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.