Touching film: the embodied practice and politics of film viewing and filmmaking

Anne Cranny-Francis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


This article analyses the somatic experiences of film-viewing and film-making by reference to the sense of touch. For viewers the tactility of film is located in the film's deployment of sound and in the ways it challenges the viewer's proprioceptive sense; that is, sense of location in space. Both, it is argued, are deployed to incorporate the viewer into the film's narrative and its politics, as classical realist film is often said to “suture” the viewer into both the narrative and politics of the text. In contrast, the article also explores the work of a filmmaker, Stefan Popescu, who specifically works against this “suturing” effect, in order to enhance the viewer's own agency in generating meaning in a film. Popescu follows avantgarde filmmaker Stan Brakhage in physically manipulating his films—touching them in a variety of ways (scratching, cutting, burning the film stock)—in order to disrupt realist viewing practice and its coercive politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-178
Number of pages16
JournalSenses and Society
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009


  • touch
  • tactility
  • politics
  • meaning
  • embodiment


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