Academic journal article Journal of Aesthetics and Culture

Picturing the World - Cinematic Globalization in the Deserts of Babel

Academic journal article Journal of Aesthetics and Culture

Picturing the World - Cinematic Globalization in the Deserts of Babel

Article excerpt

AGAINST GLOBALIZATION

Picturing the world--cinematic globalization in the deserts of Babel

Mads Anders Baggesgaard*

Department of Aesthetics and Communication--Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark

Abstract

Globalization remains a challenge for the art of cinema. No art form is more suited to the task of showing clashes between cultures and the internal conflicts of a society, but as films are both narratively and physically dependent on locations--even if these can be multiple and dispersed throughout the world--and because of the logistics and the finances required for the production of film, cinema has almost always been placed in a national or regional framework. Reflecting the totality and networked nature of the globalized world seems more readily attainable for more conceptual forms of art. This article discusses Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu's 2006 film Babel , often cited as the "first film of globalization," asking the question of whether this claim can be substantiated alone with reference to the networked narrative of the film and use of multiple locations, suggesting that the relationship between cinema and globalization should in fact be understood on the terms of the medium as a visual reflection of images of the globe. Drawing on theories on the visual nature of globalization by Arjun Appadurai, Martin Heidegger, and W. J. T. Mitchell, this article thus argues for a different conception of cinematic globalization rooted in the history of cinema rather than in theories of globalization.

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Mads Anders Baggesgaard , PhD, DFF Sapere Aude Postdoc in Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, Denmark. Has published extensively on contemporary French and Francophone literature and film. Recent publications includes "A World of Emotions - Mediality in the Works of Pierre Alferi" in S.E. Larsen & L. Sætre (eds.) Text, Action, Emotion, Aarhus University Press and Confronting Universalities: Aesthetics and Politics under the Sign of Globalization, ed. with Jakob Ladegaard, Aarhus University Press, 2011.

Keywords: visuality; complexity; opacity; landscape

Published: 28 November 2013

*Correspondence to: Mads Anders Baggesgaard, Department of Aesthetics and Communication--Comparative Literature, Aarhus University, DK-Aarhus, Denmark. Email: madsbaggesgaard@hum.au.dk

©2013 M.A. Baggesgaard. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0) License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Citation: Journal of Aesthetics & Culture, Vol. 5, 2013 http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/jac.v5i0.22704

Globalization remains a challenge for the art of cinema. No art form is more suited to the task of showing clashes between cultures and the internal conflicts of a society, but as films are both narratively and physically dependent on locations (even if these can be multiple and dispersed throughout the world), because of the use of spoken language, and because of the logistics and the finances required for the production of film, cinema is most often placed firmly within a national or regional framework. Reflecting the totality and networked nature of the globalized world, it may seem more readily attainable for more conceptual forms of art.

Even if there is something in the nature of the medium that encourages an interest in location, this does not mean that filmmakers have renounced the task of depicting the globe. Alejandro Gonzales Iñárritu's 2006 film Babel is often mentioned as "the first film of globalization" because of the complex whole of the film--intertwining stories from three different continents in a storyline jumping with sophistication in both time and space. …

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