Mise en Esprit: One-Character Films and the Evocation of Sensory Imagination

Julian Hanich*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    This article starts out by introducing the category of the ‘one-character film’ — that is, narrative feature films that rely on a single onscreen character. One-character films can range from extremely laconic movies entirely focused on the action in the narrative here-and-now via highly talkative films that revolve around soliloquies of self-reflection, questioning of identity and a problematizing of the narrative past to strongly dialogue-heavy films that — via phones and other telecommunication devices — reach far beyond the depicted scene. It is on the latter that the article eventually focuses. Films like Buried (2010), Locke (2013) or The Guilty (2018) centrifugally thrust the viewers into a simultaneous present that remains invisible and that they have to imagine in sensory ways. Imagining this invisible elsewhere, which I call mise en esprit, can be facilitated and evoked through various cinematic means such as reduced within-modality-interference, suggestive verbalizations, acousmatic voices and sound effects.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)249–264
    Number of pages16
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Nov-2020


    • sensory imagination
    • offscreen space
    • chamber film
    • sound effects
    • dialogue

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