Macquarie University
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The four elements of ecocinema

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posted on 2022-03-29, 02:48 authored by Ludo De Roo
In the context of ecocinema theory and phenomenological aesthetics, this cross-disciplinary thesis is the first that proposes a film theory of the four natural elements – earth, air, water and fire. Much like Pre-Socratic cosmogony, these four natural elements are the basic material to create almost any film world. Thinking through earth, air, water and fire in film – be it 1960 art house cinema or the newest CGI-loaded blockbuster – reveals forgotten philosophical meaning and the essential role the natural elements play in imagining the world. Drawing on phenomenological and aesthetic theories of cinematic experience, this new way of thinking these elements through film involves a threefold exploration. First, it investigates how the elements matter on this most fundamental level – how they help creating an expressive film world that engages the spectator on a phenomenological level of experience.Secondly, it considers how the explicit depiction of earth, air, water and/or fire is meaningful before its narrative-symbolical significance: in the phenomenological film experience, cinema’s ‘elemental images’ are directly experienced as very concrete manifestations of the film world’s materiality. This, thirdly, opens up a new sensitivity to the environment: in short, my claim is that all films have this ecological potential; it is actually intrinsic to cinema’s technological nature that the spectator may experience an original relation to the natural world.


Table of Contents

Introduction : ecological thinking -- Chapter 1. Thinking about the world : a question of the elements -- Chapter 2. Shorelines of spectatorship : cinematic engagement and the filmworld's elemental landscape -- Chapter 3. From element to elemental : ecocinema and ecological thinking -- Conclusion.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 80-91

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis MRes


MRes, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Philosophy

Department, Centre or School

Department of Philosophy

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Robert Sinnerbrink


Copyright Ludo de Roo 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




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