Freitag, 19. Mai 2023, 17:00 - 18:30 iCal

Affects and Emotions in Film, Part 2

Guest Lecture

Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies (tfm), Seminar room 2H510 (5th floor), UZA II, Rotunde
Josef-Holaubek-Platz 2, 1090 Wien


Affects and emotions are an integral part of cinema, manifested both in the cinematic form and in the viewer’s reception of the film work. In this series of guest lectures, film and media scholars share their perspectives on the topic of affects and emotions in film, focusing on both established and lesser-known works of world cinema.


Friday, 19 May, 2023 | 17:00 | Julian Hanich: "Film and the Beauty of Nature: An Ecological Perspective"


In this talk Julian Hanich will raise the question if the affectively charged experience of natural beauty in film, under certain circumstances, can contribute positively to the debate about ecocinema, ecocriticism and an environmentally progressive aesthetics.

Perceiving beauty is a key appeal of film, and the cinema, from its beginnings, often sought and found the sources of this pleasure in nature. This is no different today: natural beauty entices anywhere from mainstream movies to art cinema, from experimental films to wildlife documentaries. Yet against the catastrophic upheavals reshaping our natural world for some viewers the experience of natural beauty has become increasingly fraught with doubt, even melancholy. While longing for cinema’s beauty of nature, they find it hard to avoid mourning it at the same time. Others have gone further and rejected looking at nature’s beauty as frivolous, even ideologically dubious.

Starting from analyses of beautiful ecocritical films such as "RR" (2007, James Benning) or "Gunda" (2021, Victor Kossakovsky), Julian Hanich shows that rejecting representations of natural beauty—and the affective experiences that come with it—would be a grave mistake: it would not only rob us of a fundamental aesthetic experience but also a weapon against environmental ignorance.

Philosophically, his position comes close to what in environmental aesthetics is called "aesthetic preservationism". According to scholars embracing this position, natural beauty is an important justification for environmental protection, and it comes with a powerful aesthetic imperative: Just as there’s a duty to preserve beautiful art, there’s an obligation to preserve beautiful nature. Aesthetic preservationism therefore concludes that environmental 'ethics' should take environmental 'aesthetics' more seriously. And for this the medium of film seems invaluable because it can combine moving images of beautiful nature with subtle ethical argumentations. The two films mentioned above will serve as strong cases in point.


Julian Hanich is Associate Professor of Film Studies at the University of Groningen. He is the author of three monographs: "The Audience Effect: On the Collective Cinema Experience" (Edinburgh UP), "Cinematic Emotion in Horror Films and Thrillers: The Aesthetic Paradox of Pleasurable Fear" (Routledge) and "Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau: City Girl" (Edition Text + Kritik). With Daniel Fairfax, he co-edited "The Structures of the Film Experience by Jean-Pierre Munier: Historical Assessments and Phenomenological Expansions" (Amsterdam UP); and with Christian Ferencz-Flatz he was responsible for an issue of "Studia Phaenomenologica" on ‘Film and Phenomenology’. Currently, he is co-editing, with Martin Rossouw, a volume entitled "What Film Is Good For: On the Values of Spectatorship" (University of California Press). His research focuses on film aesthetics, cinematic emotions, film and imagination, film phenomenology, and the collective cinema experience. His work can be found at


This event is hosted by the Department of Theatre, Film and Media Studies (tfm) and supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF).


Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft


Joanna Lapinska
Institut für Theater-, Film- und Medienwissenschaft