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The Time-Image in Carlos Reygadas’ Stellet Licht: A Cinema of Immanence

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Stellet Licht (Luz silenciosa/Silent Light), the third full-length film by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas, was awarded the Jury Prize at Cannes upon its release in 2007. This study offers a close reading of the film, drawing primarily on Gilles Deleuze's concept of the time-image as developed in his two Cinema books, first published in 1983 and 1985. I demonstrate how the film functions as an exemplary case for the application of many of Deleuze's key defining aspects of the time-image such as the ‘still life’, the ‘opsign’, the ‘heautonomous’ audio-visual image, the ‘spiritual automaton’, the ‘power of the false’, the ‘irrational cut’ and the ‘outside/inside’ topography of modern cinema. The study draws comparisons with Carl Dreyer's Ordet (1955), an overt model for this film's staging of the miraculous resurrection of one its characters. Rather than read the resurrection as an exceptional event that shatters the film's apparent realism, I argue that Stellet Licht presents it as a manifestation of the time-image thereby affirming the immanence inherent in the singularity of everyday existence. These conclusions serve to illustrate my contentions that Stellet Licht can be defined stylistically as a form of strange or paradoxical naturalism.
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Keywords: Carl Dreyer; Carlos Reygadas; Gilles Deleuze; Ordet (1955); Stellet Licht (2007); cinema; immanence; time-image

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Leicester,

Publication date: November 1, 2013

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