“Films are dreams, films are music. No artistic genre penetrates our conscience, directly touches our feelings, and reaches the dark depths of our souls as films do,” said filmmaker Ingmar Bergman. These words reflect his philosophical soul behind the camera and capture his true essence.
There are myriad examples of writers and philosophers who used cinema to illustrate philosophical theories.
Alongside Bergman, there is Andrei Tarkovsky, Carl Theodor Dreyer, Jean-Luc Godard, Woody Allen, and Louis Malle, to name just a few.
Existentialism enjoyed the lion’s share of their attention. This is not surprising given that it is the closest philosophy to every man and artist’s heart.
To channel German philosopher Martin Heidegger, existentialism is not concernedwith science or exploration of the universe but rather with humans and their concerns and the puzzling world into which the species was thrown. It is a philosophy about life — our life as humans when we go out into this world each day.
There is a name I have intentionally held back, until now: Terrence Malick.
Disciple of Heidegger
The American filmmaker is an artistic genius and philosopher. For a short while, he studied the subject at Harvard and Oxford, taught by one of the greatest philosophers of the century, if not the single greatest — Heidegger.
The apprenticeship was short. But it left an imprint on Malick’s whole life. He translated Vom Wesen Des Grundes(The Essence of Reasons) from German into English and taught philosophy at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a short period.
Afterwards, he studied cinematography and went on to work in the film industry.
Through his movies — which began in the 1970s until present day — he continues teaching Heidegger’s theories.
Authenticity vs fakeness
Heidegger often debated the concept of authenticity and the distinction between being real and being fake with others.
Malick adores depicting phony behaviour in his films.