The Tragedy of the Knight of Faith: The Kierkegaardian Tension of Scorsese’s Cinema

Silvia Angeli, Francesco Sticchi

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The cinema of Scorsese has been analysed in connection with a wide range of themes and issues. In this paper, through a film-philosophical analysis, we aim to demonstrate how his filmography produces storyworlds pervaded by a tension similar to the one Søren Kierkegaard expressed in his existentialist writings. Indeed, one of the tenets of film-philosophy is that audio-visual media generate, in an affective and experiential manner, complex moral and ethical systems and existential viewpoints with which viewers interact in a direct and creative way. Empathising with the self-sacrifice of the unlikely martyr played by Jake LaMotta or feeling the collapsing certainties of a missionary in seventeenth-century Japan are thus occasions to encounter particular conceptual personae. These characters embody specific iterations of Kierkegaardian knights of faith: existentialist figures whose doom takes in ambiguous film ecologies where the desire for wholesomeness constantly clashes with mortality and finitude.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFilm and Philosophy
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2023


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