Towards an Embodied Poetics of Cinema: The Metaphoric Construction of Abstract Meaning in Film
Maarten Coëgnarts and Peter Kravanja
Abstract: Central to Conceptual Metaphor Theory (CMT) is the notion of embodied mind, which states that cognition is shaped by aspects of the body. Human beings make metaphoric use of recurring dynamic patterns of perceptual interactions and motor programmes (image schemas) for abstract conceptualisation and reasoning. According to film scholar David Bordwell the poetics of cinema studies the film as a result of a process of construction. He presents the following key question: how do film-makers use the aesthetic dynamics of the film medium to elicit particular effects from spectators? In this article we want to address an abbreviated case of meaning construction in film, namely the construction of abstract meaning in film. By combining insights from Bordwell as well as CMT, we will demonstrate how the poetics of abstract meaning-making in film is embodied. What does it mean to say that the construction of higher meaning in film is rooted in bodily experience and how can this be grasped without resorting to the confinement of words and sentences? By analysing the stylistics and the visual patterning of particular film scenes we will demonstrate how film-makers often resort to image schemas to come to terms with abstract notions such as time, love and psychological content.