Ch 2. What is Film?


This chapter examines the principal attempts to define "film." It begins with a discussion of the methodology of conceptual analysis. Here I set expectations: We will likely fail, but the attempt is nevertheless fruitful. The chapter notes the lack of a consensus as to the very term we should use to identify our concept. Is it "film," "cinema," "movies," "motion pictures," or "moving images?" For ease of expression, I settle on "film." At this point, the chapter moves on to explore three types of definitions.  The first is that of simple definitions that list just one or two conditions, typically projection and movement. These failed definitions motivate a discussion of the role of movement in film.  Here I retrace the debate between Currie, Carroll, and Kania about whether films really do move. The chapter then explores Bazanian style definitions that attribute the essence of film to photography. Finally, I turn to the most robust definition in the literature, that offered by Carroll. I develop Carroll's definition and then consider several objections from Yanal and Wartenberg.  Although these objections fail to hit the mark, there are two more troublesome counter-examples. The most forceful comes from optical illusions, such as "Rotating Snakes."

PhilPapers Bibliography

YouTube Channel - Playlist for Ch 2 [here]