Memory Affect: The Past and Present in Ross McElwee’s Photographic Memory (2011) and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011)

Jackson, Sophie (2014) Memory Affect: The Past and Present in Ross McElwee’s Photographic Memory (2011) and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life (2011). In: Avanca-Cinema 2014. CineClube Avanca, pp. 328-334. ISBN 978-989-96858-4-0

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This paper will explore the concept of Memory Affect - bringing together current thinking on affect in cinema and affect in the experiencing of memory by making specific reference to Terrence Malick’s feature film The Tree of Life (2011) and Ross McElwee’s documentary Photographic Memory (2011). In Photographic Memory, McElwee’s sixth wry autobiographical documentary since his groundbreaking film Sherman’s March, the director articulates the experiences of memory and it’s fragmentary subjective nature in relation to the photographic image, both moving and still, analogue and digital. Although not specifically stated, McElwee’s insights illustrate the notion of a Memory Affect. Building on the ideas exposed by McElwee, this paper also considers Malick’s equally personal Palme d’Or- winning The Tree of Life, where the director evokes memory within a fictional context, not only representing memory but also positioning the viewer within the act of remembering, creating an affective memory experience. With it’s particular ability to represent time and space, cinema is not only a metaphor for memory but also constitutive of memory, and this paper considers another layer of overlap – that of the affective, embodied experience of remembering, of calling the past into present. Drawing on a range of theoretical works, this paper uses these two very different films to explore the notion of Memory Affect and the creation of a memory experience shared between the viewer, the filmmaker and the memory.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Keywords: Memory, Affect, Malick, McElwee
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 05 Jul 2018 11:10
Last Modified: 09 Sep 2021 19:01

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