“Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and New Interpretations of Walter Benjamin’s Aura”
Ph.D. candidate, Department of Philosophy, 2016-2017 Glasscock Graduate Research Fellow, Texas A&M University
This essay addresses considerations regarding Kubrick, his legacy, and his film The Shining. First, Leckey considers the different capabilities of the literary image and the filmic image through the act of adaptation. In so doing, she will explore the impact that adaptation from literature to film has on a narrative, paying particular attention to Kubrick’s extreme reduction of exposition through dialogue in favor of exposition through visual cues and juxtaposition. Second, Leckey relies on Walter Benjamin’s work in “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” to raise a question regarding the aura of the work of art both in terms of classic works of art and filmic works of art. Classically speaking, the aura of a work of art, such as a painting, has a singular aura that centers on the geospatial object itself – the painting in the museum. Given the technological reproducibility of film and the lack of any original or authentic print of the film, discussing the geospatial location of Benjamin’s aura becomes nonsensical. Rather than accept Benjamin’s argument that film lacks an aura, Leckey instead suggests that the aura is not centered, but radically dispersed. The aura, understood as an event, happens in one place at one time for the viewer of a classical work of art. The event of viewing film can happen anywhere to anyone, but when it happens, the experience of the aura of that film is singular and powerful for that viewer. Further, this phenomenological experience of the aura of a film is a singularity that happens multiply, as it can occur again and again to an infinite range of viewers. In framing Benjamin’s aura in this way, Leckey argues, adopting an existential approach to both the experience and interpretation of film becomes crucially important not only for scholarship, but for pedagogy.
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