- Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy
In the English translation of Gilles Deleuze: Cinema and Philosophy, Paola Marrati does precisely what the reader would hope for in a new book on the cinema theory and philosophy of Gilles Deleuze. Carefully unpacking a difficult theorist, Marrati then sends the discussion in a new direction, creating, essentially, the possibility of a new vein in Deleuze scholarship. Her work, Cinema and Philosophy, focuses on Deleuze’s influential Cinema 1 and 2 books. Her incisive discussion of these two texts, however, also allows her to stretch beyond them, connecting the two elements of her title in a fascinating way. Connecting Deleuze’s Cinema output to other key texts from his career, Marrati opens up the discussion of the cinema texts to new and vital questions, specifically about the nature of political action and the possibility of a specifically Deleuzian “political philosophy” that the books help to create in Deleuze’s oeuvre.
Like both Bergson and Deleuze following after him, Marrati takes to heart the dictum that a study must uniquely fit its object. Cinema and Philosophy details Deleuze’s arguments in the Cinema books with acuity; it argues convincingly for certain connections between these books and ongoing concerns throughout his work, and it models, in its very form, the themes from Bergson that it plays with. It is a short book because it is also an incisive book, with a clearly expressed and graceful argument. Each chapter’s argument dips gracefully into its topic, and then emerges just as gracefully when its task has been completed. It is worth writing that Marrati’s clear writing style does real service to Deleuze’s themes. Like David Rodowick’s influential Gilles Deleuze’s Time Machine, Marrati’s text helps to take the relevant themes from Deleuze and clarify them. Her treatment of the at-times difficult themes of Cinema 1 and 2 clarifies Deleuze’s argument for the casual reader of either of these books, which is a service in itself. However, she, like Rodowick, goes significantly beyond this as well, to formulate a new thesis regarding Deleuze’s overall project in the cinema books—one that connects them to preoccupations stretching significantly beyond them. This makes Cinema and Philosophy a real [End Page 1213] gift to experienced Deleuze readers, making it clear that there is a great deal more to do in Deleuze scholarship.
This thesis—a significant contribution to an active and ongoing engagement with Deleuze in film studies, in philosophy, and in the academy proper— places Deleuze’s arguments about the nature of the film image in the context of political concerns that are, Marrati argues, integral to gaining a greater understanding of Deleuze’s work as a philosopher as well as, specifically, a philosopher of film. This thesis comes through, surprisingly, clearest in her introduction to the new translation and in the appendix that follows the book’s conclusion. Marrati states that it was only by returning to the text after the creation of the French translation that she identified the ongoing concern that the book fundamentally addresses. It is, then, here in this new section that she lays out the surprising, and moving, thesis that it is in the cinema books that Deleuze first truly outlines his political philosophy. In his dealings with the image as read through directors like D. W. Griffith, Sergei Eisenstein, Roberto Rossellini, and others, Marrati argues that Deleuze indeed outlines a political philosophy of action as it relates to a creation of the “new.” There is, as she argues, a philosophy of agency that is implicitly supported by the analysis of the film image in the cinema books. Marrati states in her introduction that, “As Deleuze rightly emphasizes, Bergson’s central question concerns the production of the new, and philosophy must be converted . . . to analyzing what makes it possible for the new to appear” (14). This production of the new is, to Marrati’s mind, Bergson’s underlying and animating concern in Matter and Memory, as well as Deleuze’s preoccupation in the Cinema books...