chapter  9
16 Pages

Foucault, Film and the Utopian Body

WithAlice Leroy

Although Foucault dedicated many of his writings to painting or literature, he seldom wrote about film. Certainly, he discussed with Serge Daney and Pascal Bonitzer-both editors of the Cahiers du cinéma during the ’70s-films which reflected his own philosophical concerns; those of Pier Paolo Pasolini, Marguerite Duras, Werner Schroeter or Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.1 Other movies, like René Allio’s Moi, Pierre Rivière, ayant égorgé ma mère, ma soeur et mon frère (1976) were directly inspired by some of his own books. Foucault nonetheless never went as far as to propose a general theory of the film medium. His conceptual toolbox has nonetheless provided fruitful notions to film theorists: during the seventies, Jean-Louis Baudry and Christian Metz for instance referred to his concept of apparatus to qualify film as an ideological machine or an imaginary signifier. More recently, his definition of heterotopia has been largely applied to the film medium: challenging the coercive aspects of the apparatus theory, it suggests that the film projection can no more be conceived in terms of mass alienation but as a displacement of the subject, insofar as it transports the viewer (“voyager” as Giuliana Bruno2 calls him or her) into “other spaces.”3