Breathing, Cinema and Other “Nobjects” in Camille Vidal-Naquet’s Sauvage

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This article examines the breathing and breathless body in Camille-Vidal Naquet’s Sauvage (2018). Respiration has been characterised by Peter Sloterdijk, in the first volume of his Sphären (Spheres) trilogy, as the first extension of the womb. The air we breathe is a “nobject” (a non-object) that escapes the subject-object relation, like the placenta before it. Sauvage engages the respiratory, alongside the placental and the acoustic, as three pre-oral “nobjects” for exploring what Leo Bersani has termed the body’s “somatic receptivity”. Duration, framing, lighting, and camera movements cultivate a spectator’s receptivity to these “nobjects” and participate in acts of sphere formation. This provides a framework for thinking about how cinema itself might function as a “nobject”: a connective medium or sphere that supports and augments a subject, providing a field of protection and attention. However, the film’s presentation of breathlessness also signals a blocked receptivity, an inability to take in, introducing friction and resistance to the discourse of immediacy and exchange that characterises philosophical reflections on breath. Breathlessness has implications for thinking about bodily autonomy and forms of freedom that speak to the queer politics of Sauvage, as well as questions about movement and stillness, animation and lifelessness, that reflect back on the medium of film itself.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-109
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Shortlisted for the 2022 Film-Philosophy Annual Article Award


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