The missing link: Meunier on imagination and emotional engagement

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In this chapter I consider the originality and applicability of Jean-Pierre Meunier’s phenomenological account of cinematic identification. I focus in particular on the key role assigned to imagination in his account of spectator identification, and describe some suggestive parallels with contemporary theorists’ accounts of imagination (as perceptual engagement, mental simulation or make-believe, and Murray Smith’s threefold ‘structure of sympathy’). Finally, I consider some difficulties in Meunier’s model – his overly clustered concept of ‘identification’; a tension between formal-phenomenological analysis and background cultural-historical pre-understanding; and his focus on character identification at the expense of background ‘world’ apprehension – that could be modified in order to enhance his original contribution to philosophical film theory.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe structures of the film experience by Jean-Pierre Meunier
Subtitle of host publicationhistorical assessments and phenomenological expansions
EditorsJulian Hanich, Daniel Fairfax
Place of PublicationAmsterdam
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789048537846
ISBN (Print)9789462986565
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) / the Publisher 2019. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • emotion
  • film-philosophy
  • identification
  • phenomenology
  • Jean-Paul Satre


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