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The Dardenne Brothers and the Invisible Ethical Drama: Faith without Faith

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journal contribution
posted on 21.05.2021, 15:25 by John Caruana
The cinema of the Dardenne brothers represents a new kind of cinema, one that challenges a number of our conventional ways of thinking about the distinction between religion and secularism, belief and unbelief. Their films explore the intricacies of spiritual and ethical transformations as they are experienced within embodied, material life. These features of their cinema will be examined primarily through the lens of Emmanuel Levinas’s philosophy of the imbrication of the drama of existence and the ethical intrigue of self and Other. The work of the Dardenne brothers can be understood as an attempt to express what I describe as a “faith without faith”—a recognition of the absolute centrality of belief for the development of a responsible subject but in the absence of a traditional faith in a personal deity.

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