Elemental imagination and film experience

climate change and the cinematic ethics of immersive filmworlds

Ludo de Roo*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


In an age of ecological disasters and increasing environmental crisis, the experience of any cinematic fi ction has an intrinsic ethical potential to reorient the spectator's awareness of the ecological environment. The main argument is that the spectator's sensory-affective and emphatically involving experience of cinema is essentially rooted in what I call "elementalimagination." This is to say, fi rst, that the spectator becomes phenomenologically immersed with the projected filmworld by a cinematic expression of the elemental world, and second, muchlike there is no filmworld without landscapes, the foundational aspect of elements are revealed as preceding and sustaining the narrative and symbolic layers of film experience. While suggesting the existential-ethical potential of this fundamental process of film experience, the second aim of this article is to show that this form of elemental imagination complements more mainstream "environmentalist" films, such as climate change documentaries and blockbuster apocalyptic genre films.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-79
Number of pages22
JournalProjections (New York)
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019


  • Elemental imagination
  • Existential ethics
  • Film-philosophy
  • Filmworld
  • Immersion
  • Phenomenology

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