Abstract

The acting style in Stanley Kubrick’s films can be regarded as a symptom of the “other minds problem” and its ramifications for the cinema. Performances in Kubrick’s work reveal the complications involved in positing narration as a rhetorical system with a priori claims to direct and accurate evaluative knowledge of characters. For Kubrick, narrative discourse is not a systemic correlative for authorial mastery over characters, and so his actors help establish narrational patterns that collide with the intricacies of fictional subjectivities. The performative techniques that complicate our ability to conceptualize and engage with characters’ emotions are itemized with the aim of precisely conceptualizing the director’s unique approach to performance. These strategies include strategic improvisation, excessive ostensiveness, expressively neutral action, and artificially immobilized expressions. Such techniques allow us to appreciate Kubrick’s “skeptical classicism,” a mode of narration whereby we negotiate various avenues and impediments surrounding our longing for knowledge of an other’s mind.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1542-4251
Print ISSN
0149-1830
Pages
pp. 5-27
Launched on MUSE
2016-02-07
Open Access
No
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