Main content

Lights, Camera, Inaction: An Existential Guide to the Movies

From Woody Allen to the Truman Show via Bridget Jones, Groundhog Day and Taxi Driver; Matthew Sweet examines the many and varied ways that cinema communicates existentialist ideas.

From Woody Allen to the Truman Show via Groundhog Day and Taxi Driver; Matthew Sweet examines the many and varied ways that cinema communicates existentialist ideas. Both in ways we expect and in ways that we don't (step forward Bridget Jones).

Cinema is very good at explaining Existentialism and capturing its various moods and feelings; but its deeper than that. The language of existentialism with its heroes, choices and crises sounds suspiciously like the language of screenwriting. They are, after all, both ways of trying to create meaning and narrative out of nothing. The blank page that confronts a screenwriter confronts all of us as we decide how to live. As Jean Paul Sartre, Simone De Beauvoir and Albert Camus would tell us - the blank page is us; the film of our lives is waiting to be made.

Films included in the program:

The Music Box (1932) directed by James Parrott, produced by Hal Roach

Groundhog Day (1993) directed by Harold Ramis; produced by Harold Ramis and ‚ÄéTrevor Albert

Play it Again Sam ((19792) directed by Herbert Poss; produced by Arthur P Jacobs.

Love and Death (1975) directed by Woody Allen; produced by Charles H Joffe

Bridget Jones Diary (2001) directed by Sharon Maguire; Produced by Tim Bevan, Jonathan Cavendish and Eric Fellner.

Taxi Driver (1976) directed by Martin Scorsese; produced By Michael Phillips and Julia Phillips.

Casablanca (1943) directed by Michael Curtiz; produced by Hal B. Wallis

The Rebel (1961) directed by Robert Day; produced by W.A Whittaker

The Truman Show (1998) directed by Peter Wier; produced by Scott Rudin, Andrew Niccol, Edward S. Feldman, Adam Schroeder.

Available now

57 minutes