Death Scenes: ethics of the face and cinematic deaths
This paper focuses on 'death scenes' in the context of film. Death haunts our living as an immanence and alterity shadowing and marking our material being. We live knowing we are going to die and we live this knowing in the face of others and through various forms of representation. The certainty that we are going to die is also fraught with uncertainty and anxiety about how and when we are going to die. Representations of death in film offer many ways of facing, deflecting or projecting these anxieties onto others. While mastery of others through violence and murder is a significant aspect of film culture, the central aims of this paper are to speak of the alterity of death - that which escapes mastery - and to examine the desire to do justice to or annihilate this alterity in the face of others facing death. The question of how we face or enact death through cinematic representation, narrative and performance is woven in this paper with the question of how representation mediates an always immediate and always unmediated immanence. This paper develops some of its discussion of film death scences with reference to Emmanuel Levinas' writings on alterity, death and the face.