Tuitions and Intuitions

Essays at the Intersection of Film Criticism and Philosophy

By William Rothman

Subjects: Film Studies, Philosophy
Series: SUNY series, Horizons of Cinema
Hardcover : 9781438475790, 412 pages, November 2019
Paperback : 9781438475783, 412 pages, November 2019

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Table of contents


Introduction: How John the Baptist Kept His Head, or My Life in Film Philosophy

Part I. A Philosophical Perspective

1. Why Not Realize Your World? William Rothman interviewed by Jeffrey Crouse

2. Silence and Stasis

3. Film and Modernity

4. André Bazin as Cavellian Realist

5. What Becomes of the Camera in the World on Film?

Part II. Studies in Criticism

6. “I Never Thought I Should Sink So Low as to Become an Actor”: John Barrymore in Twentieth Century

7. “I Look Up, I Look Down”: James Stewart in Vertigo

8. Hats Off for George Cukor!

9. Woody Allen’s New York

10. Blood is Thicker than Water: The Family in Hitchcock

11. Space and Speech in the Films of Yasujiro¯ Ozu

12. Romance, Eroticism, and the Camera’s Gaze in Jean Genet’s Un Chant d’amour

13. Face to Face with Chantal Akerman

14. Precious Memories in Philosophy and Film

15. Seeing the Light in The Tree of Life

16. A Film That Is Also a Handshake: Philosophy in the Films of the Dardenne Brothers

17. Justifying Justified

18. Documentary Film in Boston in the 1970s and 1980s

19. Sometimes Daddies Don’t Talk about Things Like That: Ross McElwee’s Bright Leaves

20. Jean Rouch as Film Artist: Turu and Bitti, Funeral at Bongo: The Old Anaï (1848–1972), Ambara Dama

21. Dancing with Gardner: Robert Gardner’s Films on Art

22. Dead Birds Re-Encountered: A Journey of Return


Makes the case that philosophy has an essential role to play in the serious study of film.


William Rothman has long been considered one of the seminal figures in the field of film-philosophy. From his landmark book Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze, now in its second edition, to the essays collected here in Tuitions and Intuitions, Rothman has been guided by two intuitions: first, that his kind of film criticism is philosophy; and second, that such a marriage of criticism and philosophy has an essential part to play in the serious study of film. In this book, he aspires, borrowing a formulation from Emerson, to "pay the tuition" for these intuitions.

Thoughtful, philosophically sophisticated, and provocative, the essays included here address a wide range of films, including classical Hollywood movies; the work of "auteur" directors like Alfred Hitchcock, George Cukor, Yasujirō Ozu, and Woody Allen; performances by John Barrymore and James Stewart; unconventional works by Jean Genet, Chantal Akerman, Terrence Malick, and the Dardenne brothers; the television series Justified; and documentaries by Jean Rouch, Ross McElwee, and Robert Gardner. All the essays address questions of philosophical significance and, taken together, manifest Rothman's lifelong commitment when writing about a film, to respect the film's own ideas; to remain open to the film's ways of expressing its ideas; and to let the film help teach him how to view it, how to think about it, and how to discover what he has at heart to say about it.

William Rothman is Professor of Cinema and Interactive Media at the University of Miami. His previous books include, as author, Hitchcock: The Murderous Gaze; as editor, Cavell on Film and Three Documentary Filmmakers: Errol Morris, Ross McElwee, and Jean Rouch; and as coeditor, with Rebecca Meyers and Charles Warren, Looking with Robert Gardner, all published by SUNY Press.


"Tuitions and Intuitions is simply indispensable to anyone interested in philosophy and in film as philosophy. This book as a whole expresses and exemplifies moral perfectionism through the exploration of what our self becomes with this experience of cinema." — Sandra Laugier, University Panthéon Sorbonne, Paris

"Bringing Rothman's work together highlights patterns and consistent concerns that may not otherwise be obvious to readers. The book will be invaluable to current and future Rothman scholars." — Kyle Stevens, author of Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism