This paper considers the work of Emmanuel Levinas alongside Gideon Koppel's film sleep furiously to explore the significance of temporality for the ethical potential of documentary film. Though comparatively little attention has been devoted to Levinas's conception of time as intersubjective, I argue that it is vital not only to Levinas's broader model of subjectivity, to the ethical relation and the place of the aesthetic in his thought, but also to new ways of thinking about filmic temporalities. I propose that the creation of an intersubjective temporality and an encounter between spectator and filmic subject that accommodates ungraspable alterity becomes all the more significant in view of documentary's ‘truth claim’ and its charged relation to knowledge, questioning the limits of contemporary definitions of documentary. Through a consideration of sleep furiously I also emphasise how such a temporality may reposition discourse around documentary, shifting the focus away from pastness and memorialisation towards the futural and the unanticipated that form the intersection of the ethical with the political.
Harries, R. (2015). Continuity and rupture: Levinas's temporal ethics and Gideon Koppel'ssleep furiously. New Review of Film and Television Studies, 13(2), 189-210. https://doi.org/10.1080/17400309.2015.1004962