© Connor Sabin 2015


In this paper, I approach the concept of subject formation through the lens of the movie screen. The way in which we interact with the social imaginary created by the cinema is fascinating in that it not only presences us as being an active participant—we experience ourselves in their shoes, our eyes mimic their actions, and we feel their feelings—but also establishes us as agents that determine the legitimacy of the reality that we’re being presented. In this sense, we are not only posited as gatekeepers of the political, ethical, and moral actions of the characters produced, but the reality constructed correlates in some manner (despite how abstract) to our everyday lives. I aim to argue that film creates a symbolic exchange between the spectator and the movie, and that relationship implicates us as moral agents. As a form of pedagogy, film has the ability to inform the self in the context of the world around us by creating impetus to engage or avoid certain actions. In this paper, we will take into account the film M as exemplary of this theory of subject formation, and attempt to articulate whether or not a project that contextualizes the self in terms of cinema creates a more active engagement with the world around us. Filtering our discussion through the concepts of the self as derived from David Hume, Jacques Derrida, as well as others, we will be able to discuss how the subject is created in the first place, and the way in which the cinema is able to augment, implicate, and inform those varying practices and ideas that constitute us as social beings. By the end of this paper, I wish to convey the multiplicity of meaning that can be found within film, and the various ways in which those can be understood as vehicles for moralistic intent.



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