Shadows of Being in <i>Sombre</i>: Archetypes, Wolf-Men and Bare Life

Jenny Chamarette

in The New Extremism in Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748641604
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748651221 | DOI:
Shadows of Being in Sombre: Archetypes, Wolf-Men and Bare Life

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Drawing on the work of Giorgio Agamben, this chapter examines two key aspects of Philippe Grandrieux's film Sombre (France, 1998): the scant traces of narrative available to the viewer in Sombre, and the ethical implications of these narrative traces in the penumbral archetypes that sparsely populate the film. The chapter explores the archetypal ‘wolf-man’ figure of the protagonist, Jean, in light of Agamben's wargus, to envisage how such trace narrative configurations can traverse both cinematic reception and cinematic production, in order to rethink the subjectivity of the non-human. The shadows of being in Sombre refer to non-human construction of an ethics of humanity at the heart of Sombre, and of many of the contemporary cinematic works that are in the process of being collectively annotated as ‘the new extremism’. The chapter contends that it is precisely through the film's address to sensation and the corporeal over narration and figuration, and an approach to filmmaking that insists on the film body itself, that such an ethical appeal is premised.

Keywords: Giorgio Agamben; Philippe Grandrieux; Sombre; new extremism; archetypes; man-wolf; non-human; subjectivity; ethics; sensation

Chapter.  6182 words. 

Subjects: Film

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