Film degree zero: Antonioni's The Passenger

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Publication details

Mules, W 2018, 'Film degree zero: Antonioni's The Passenger', Mise-en-scène: the Journal of Film & Visual Narration, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 14-25.

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This article examines Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975) as an experiment in radical desubjectification, releasing the objectified film image into the image flux as it moves towards degree zero. Roland Barthes describes degree zero as “negative momentum”: the negentropic resistance found in modernist literature and film as self-neutralising. My examination picks up on Barthes’s concept of degree zero, together with Jean-Luc Nancy’s concept of the look of film as seeing and nothing more, applying them to an analysis of Antonioni’s film. The look of the film is accessed in the space opened up at degree zero – a constellation of images posing sphinx-like questions requiring a response for the film to “go on.” Detailed analysis of the mise-en-scène reveals how the film goes on through an in situ praxis of image sketching – in the negentropic movement of the film as it moves towards degree zero.

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