A Holy Dullness: Tarkovsky, Suture, and the Numinous

In Venetia Laura Delano Robertson & Carole M. Cusack (eds.), Handbook of Contemporary Religion, Film and Television. Brill (forthcoming)
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Abstract

In this chapter, I argue that the films of Andrei Tarkovsky are particularly suitable for inducing feelings of the numinous. This suitability is a formal rather than semantic feature of his films, and is tied indelibly to what film scholars call ‘suture’. I with a summary of what film theorists mean by ‘suture’, before providing a principled defence of the Merleau-Pontian suture theory outlined by George Butte. Second, I will demonstrate that, in spite of the strength of Butte’s formulation, the numinousness of Tarkovsky’s films pose an analytical challenge to his suture theory. Finally, I will then provide my own extension of Butte’s suture theory, arguing that, by virtue of the formal properties they possess, we encounter Tarkovsky’s films more like religious objects than ordinary films. The tenor of these encounters is why Tarkovsky’s films are appropriate loci for feelings of the numinous.

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Ryan Wittingslow
University of Groningen

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