Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts

Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts

Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts

Deleuze, Cinema and National Identity: Narrative Time in National Contexts


This is one of the standout books of the year. Martin-Jones provides a profound and original reassessment of Gilles Deleuze's own concepts of style and history in modern cinema. At the same time, the book goes beyond Deleuze, indeed displaces his thought onto new territories. This is aremarkable book.'Professor David Rodowick, Harvard University. The first sustained analysis of Deleuze and national identity, this book brings together film theory and film history. It explores how Deleuze can be used to analyse national identity across a range of different cinemas, including North America, Britain, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Italy and Poland. Focusing on narrative time it combines a Deleuzean approach with a vast range of non-traditional material.The films discussed include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Terminator 3, Memento and Saving Private Ryan.


This book uses Gilles Deleuze’s philosophy of time to engage with a range of contemporary films from a number of different national cinemas. It illustrates how Deleuze’s theories can broaden our understanding of the way national identity is constructed in cinema. At the same time, the conjunction of Deleuze and the study of national identity adds an, until now, untheorised dimension to Deleuze’s categories of the time- and the movement-image. Understanding the construction of national identity in cinema, it will be seen, also broadens our understanding of Deleuze.

The films under discussion have all emerged within the very limited time span of the last ten years, from approximately the mid 1990s to the mid 2000s and have been chosen for two reasons. Firstly, they each share a common concern with the manipulation of narrative time. This is true of both the multiple narratives of Sliding Doors (Britain, 1997), Too Many Ways to be Number One (Hong Kong, 1997) and Run Lola Run (Germany 1998), and the disrupted, jumbled or backwards narratives of Chaos (Japan, 1999), Memento (USA, 2000), Peppermint Candy (South Korea, 2000) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (USA, 2004). Secondly, they all use their unusual narratives to examine recent transformations of national identity.

During times of historical transformation, films often appear that experiment formally with narrative time. The various European new waves of the 1960s and 1970s, for instance, can be interpreted not only as comments on the state of their respective national cinemas, but also on the changing postwar conditions each nation experienced. A jumbled, fragmented, multiplied or reversed film narrative then, can be interpreted as an expression of the difficulty of narrating national identity at a time of historical crisis or transformation. Such narratives formally demonstrate a nation’s exploration of its own ‘national narrative’, its examination of the national past, present and/or future in search of causes, and possible alternatives, to its current state of existence.

This process of national self reflection was most clearly evident in the new waves of postwar Europe. As opposed to the ‘linear’ narratives of the . . .

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