Darwin, Marker, Deleuze: The Expression of the Emotions and the Filmic Unconscious

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


My article traces a speculative history of the unconscious in a tradition of films and theories of cinema that engage with the face as a simulacrum of the psyche. Taking Gilles Deleuze’s discussion of the close-up in Cinema 1 as my starting point, I tease out the historical, conceptual and figural continuities between Charles Darwin’s work on the role of habit in emotional expression, Henri Bergson’s writing on perception and memory, and Deleuze’s own reflections on affectivity in film. I then turn to the films and essays of Chris Marker to suggest that within this cinematic model of the psyche, the unconscious corresponds to an irreducible passivity that conditions habit and perception and determines the expressivity of the face.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)37-53
Number of pages17
JournalWord and Text
StatePublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • Bergson
  • Chris Marker
  • Darwin
  • Deleuze
  • La Jetée
  • cinema
  • close-up
  • face
  • habit and memory
  • movement-image
  • passive synthesis


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