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Foucault at the Movies

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Member Reviews

I'm not a film scholar, nor was I that familiar with Foucault before reading this book so I had worried that this would perhaps go a little over my head, but it is written quite accessibly and doesn't presuppose knowledge. I definitely feel smarter for having read it!
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Though this book could be dry at times it was very interest to learn about the aspect of film in regards to an interesting person such as foucault. I do believe I benefitted from knowing about foucault prior to reading the book as I think that others that don't may struggle with this book.
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This was not a hard book to read. I like Foucault. This book takes a glimpse into history. But beware it might be on the sociological and psychological side for those looking for straight up nonfiction history. Getting into the book there is a MAJOR difference between Marxism & Nazism. This might not be the heaviest book, but the relevant themes, and open options to the reader are sensitive. Why? It all takes place during Ww1. The book tells you Foucault never wrote a book a film, so you can find some interviews. If your not the type of person who likes others views on history, opinions or artitic voice on something like Hitler, I would say don’t read this. This is not your typical book. You must already have a strong interest in the subject matter before hand.
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Foucault at the Movies is a translation of what was a slimmer volume in its original form. The additional length is what makes this volume even more valuable. While the original included excerpts from Foucault that the essayists referenced O'Farrell translated the entire interviews which brings these into English for the first time. That alone would make this book worth its price. The essays, which were the meat of the original, are also wonderful additions to film and Foucault studies but without the full translations of the original texts would have left most English speakers wondering about context.

If you're hesitant to pick this up because you have seen enough about using Foucault to "read" movies, such as the ever-popular panopticism/surveillance and Rear Window type of discussion, put your concerns aside. The essays are less about using Foucault in that manner and far more about applying how Foucault did his work to how film might be made to communicate better and more readily. So rather than applying his ideas  in interpreting specific films it is more about applying his methodologies to the practice of filmmaking with examples of films that seem to do so fairly successfully.

In addition to the more obvious audience of theorists and film critics this would be a wonderful book for anyone looking to become a filmmaker. I admit that I have both used and taught Foucault, especially within various area studies, so this volume speaks to me very much. The translations are, for me, a large part of the pleasure of this book. My French is rudimentary and I labor over any work which is not available in English, so adding to English translations is most valuable.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
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Thank you to Colombia University Press and Netgalley for the opportunity to read this work. Whilst at university I took a Cinema and Psychoanalysis module that ran over two years of the degree - I was introduced to Foucault during those two courses and used him quite religiously as a source in my final task. 
I must say that I enjoyed going through this book as it reminded me of some of his most interesting insights and also his unusual and interesting observations. It was so nice to have those moments of ‘oh yes’ when reading this.
For anyone interested in Cinema and the ideas of ‘Gaze’ and sexuality etc this is the man for you. My final piece was comparing Crowe as the Gladiator to Douglas as Spartacus - Foucault taught me so much and helped me immensely in achieving a great grade for that module, so I have to thank him for sharing his mind with us too.
If you are into film as a subject this is a must read!
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I always feel a bit uneasy when theory is extended to pop culture. I was a bit skeptical of a discussion of Foucault in relation to the cinema (as Foucault certainly is not the first to come to mind when I think of film) but was pleasantly surprised at the accessibility and clarity of writing.
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Knowing how little Foucault spoke of movies, I was suspicious but the authors make a very persuasive case that he did comment even if indirectly on much film work. He commented on film as form of communication, and the various writers explore that theme with verve and clarity. No mean feat .. they take different angles, and then focus on individual films to comment on. what Foucault find disruptive and different  as  observation of history inviting to search the differences and overwhelming possibilities
Historic event is triumph of perceptions!reading such clear writing from different perspectives about him is exciting and well done here ..even as a good introduction to his work!
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I think Maniglier and Zabunyan really challenge the reader to think critically with the new release Foucault at the Movies. 

You can definitely tell this is more for the academic or film nerd than your average Joe, as there are very heavy themes, terminology and concepts presented throughout the text that could make this a tedious read for those not passionate about thinking otherwise.
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Foucault at the Movies offers an two essays, by Dork Zabunyan and Patrice Maniglier, that serve as exegeses of the ways in which Foucault's work can be applied to theorizing on cinema, followed by Foucault's own interviews with Cahiers du cinema and discussions with Hélène Cixous, Werner Schroeter, and René Féret.. Zabunyan writes directly about using Foucault as a tool for approaching the moving image, and in particular how Foucault's grappling with history and popular history informs film studies and related areas. Maniglier takes on "Foucault's Metaphysics of the Event Illuminated by Cinema," a mercurial piece of writing that engages with the contradictions between approaches to history.  While  Zabunyan's essay could be used as an introduction to Foucaultian thought and film, Maniglier's is not for beginners. But I am not sure it is needed for advanced scholars either, as the topics included are ones long discussed in the film studies community and related areas in inquiry. The most valuable part of the book is its reproductions of Foucault's interviews with various directors and other thinkers on memory, popular history, and visual media. While the essays by the authors are valuable, they do not particularly offer new insights, instead spending a lot of space on defending Foucault from having not done more work with film. This is unnecessary: Foucault's writing is such  that it can be easily applied to various media and a wide range of genres within media. An annotated volume of the interviews might well have been a better project.
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A fascinating look at Foucault's philosophy. I don't know how well this will work in our public library, but I'll recommend it to patrons all the same.
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