Turning your eyes into sense organs

Ocularcentric paradigm dominated film theory for a long time. The reviewing of theories such as mirror-reflexivity and the emergency of apparatus theory transported ‘visible man’ into Plato’s cave changed the situation. Then, Thomas Elsaesser’s and Malte Hagener’s Film Theory explored the way audience experiences film through their senses, the sense of sight, the primary sense associated with our experience in relation to images and touch, a less directly related sense yet an important one relating to images.

Eyes, not only the organ of visual perception, but also the organs of all senses.

In films, there different ways to turn spectator’s eyes into sense organs. One of the most common method is to create twisted atmosphere or against audience’s usual feeling and pull audience out of their comfort zone.

According to Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener (2015), when watching Gravity(2013), spectator can feel an equally sense if weightlessness and disorientation with characters in the film. This kind of feeling is achieved by showing the endless and hopeless astrospace with long takes and 3D cinematography.

Another example is Hannibal (2013). It expressed the feelings of strange frightening and nauseated by relating bloody human skin and organs with “food”. In this TV series, close up of “meat” in Hannibal’s kitchen and the scenes of cooking and eating make audience feel eerie when they relate these clues with the evidence of “eating people”.




Thomas Elsaesser and Malte Hagener, Film Theory: An Introduction Through the Senses. London: Routledge, 2015.





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