chapter  11
10 Pages

Dead time: Cinema, Heidegger, and boredom

WithRichard Misek

This article investigates how films engage with, and exemplify cultural attitudes towards,

boredom. When applied to a film or other cultural product, the term ‘boring’ typically

implies low artistic quality. But does this negative application of the term perhaps tell us

more about capitalist culture’s apprehensive attitude towards boredom than about the

‘boring’ object itself? In this article I attempt partially to rehabilitate boredom as an

integral element of the taking of time to engage with time. In this, I take my lead from

a series of lectures by Martin Heidegger entitled The Fundamental Concepts of

Metaphysics. One might imagine that 100 pages on the subject by Heidegger would itself

constitute the ne plus ultra of boredom. Instead, I believe that his discussion of boredom as

a relation to time provides a useful, and perhaps even interesting, basis for exploring it in

relation to the time-based medium of film. I begin by summarizing and glossing

Heidegger’s discussion of boredom, and then feed his ideas into an analysis of how films

engage – or fail to engage – with temporality. I focus in particular on two types of film:

those that kill time, and those that bore to death.