Wittgenstein and Cinema

Friday, May 26 – 9

The aim of the lecture is twofold: firstly, to provide a summary of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s ideas on film art and its relationship to his philosophical thought, and secondly, to examine the films dedicated to him and those inspired by his work.

1. Wittgenstein and the art of cinema

Ludwig Wittgenstein had a deep appreciation for film, and there are numerous connections between his understanding of film art and his own conception of philosophy, which he viewed partly as an art form too.

2. Saying and showing, silent cinema and talking pictures

As is well known, at the core of Wittgenstein’s philosophy lies the fundamental distinction between saying and showing. If saying is what is proper to language, showing would be what is expressed but cannot be contained within meanings.

To explore the relationship between Wittgenstein’s philosophy and films, we will delve into the difference between silent movies and talkies, examining the concepts of “expression” and “limit,” as well as early Wittgenstein’s “pictorial” theory of language in relation to film language.

3. Films dedicated to Wittgenstein

In this section, we will focus on the analysis of two films: Derek Jarman’s Wittgenstein (1993) and Péter Forgács’ Wittgenstein Tractatus (1992), with a brief final reference to Christopher Sykes’ documentary A Wonderful Life (1989). These films represent distinct yet daring and profound interpretations of Wittgenstein’s philosophical ideas through the medium of cinema.

4. Films inspired by Wittgenstein

Lastly, in an open discussion, we will review a few films that have been (or could be considered) influenced by aspects of Wittgensteinian thought, such as Antonioni’s Night, Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth, and Denis Villeneuve’s Arrival.

ES 🇪🇸 • Deputy HoM, Embassy of Spain in Skopje || Full bio

Ernesto Heredero del Campo is a philosopher, diplomat, and poet. The current Deputy Head of Mission of the Kingdom of Spain in Skopje, he is pursuing a PhD in philosophy, with his research focused on the works of Cioran and Wittgenstein. He has published three acclaimed books of poetry.

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