The Cinema of Spiritual Life (Deleuze)


A fascinating quote by Deleuze on cinema and thought the keyterms of which are “decision,” “obstinacy,” “choice,” “existence,” and “spiritual life.”

“The reverse was also true, one went right from cinema to philosophy. Something bizarre about the cinema struck me: its unexpected ability to show not only behavior, but spiritual life [la vie spirituelle] as well (at the same time as aberrant behavior). Spiritual life isn’t dream or fantasy—which were always the cinema’s dead ends—but rather the domain of cold decision, of absolute obstinacy, of the choice of existence. How is it that the cinema is so expert at excavating this spiritual life? This can lead to the worst, a cinematic Catholicism or religious kitsch [sulpicisme] specific to the cinema, but also to the greatest: Dreyer, Sternberg, Bresson, Rosselini, and even Rohmer today. It’s interesting how Rohmer assigns to cinema the study of the spheres of existence: aesthetic existence in La Collectionmuse, ethical existence in Le Beau manage, religious existence in Ma nuit chez Maud (My Night at Maud’s). One thinks of Kierkegaard, who, well before cinema, already felt the need to write in odd synopses. Cinema not only puts movement in the image, it also puts movement in the mind. Spiritual life is the movement of the mind. One naturally goes from philosophy to cinema, but also from cinema to philosophy.”


 “The Brain Is the Screen: An Interview with Gilles Deleuze” in Gregory Flaxman (ed.), The Brain Is the Screen: Deleuze and the Philosophy of Cinema. p.366

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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2 Responses to The Cinema of Spiritual Life (Deleuze)

  1. dmf says:

    “Spiritual life is the movement of the mind” spiritual rather than psychological b/c he doesn’t want it to be reduced to the experience/behavior of the viewer?

  2. flow says:

    thanks for sharing

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