Simon Critchley

3pm | Saturday 18 May 2002
Starr Auditorium, The Tate Modern, Bankside, London

Simon Critchley, Professor of Philosophy, University of Essex

In my view, film is not so much the illustration of philosophical ideas and theories, as it is itself a form of philosophising, of reflection, reasoning and argument. Perhaps this is nowhere more powerfully explored in the films of Terrence Malick: Badlands (1973), Days of Heaven (1979) and The Thin Red Line (1998). Malick studied philosophy at Harvard and Oxford, taught it at MIT, and translated Heidegger, before going to film school in the later 1960s. We might ponder the meaning of this shift from philosophy to film. Yet, in this lecture, I would like to read The Think Red Line not through philosophy, but in its own philosophical terms. In particular, I want to focus on the representation and meaning of death in the film, and why it is that the relation to death is described in terms of ‘Calm’. In conclusion, I want to explore the relation of death to nature, and what it might mean for The Thin Red Line and Malick’s other films to be so utterly obsessed with natural sounds and images. A showing of The Thin Red Line will follow the talk.