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Politicization of art in Walter Benjamin: the emancipatory potential of cinema in Charlie Chaplin's films

Grant number: 22/03366-5
Support Opportunities:Scholarships in Brazil - Doctorate (Direct)
Effective date (Start): December 01, 2022
Effective date (End): November 30, 2024
Field of knowledge:Humanities - Philosophy
Principal Investigator:Francisco de Ambrosis Pinheiro Machado
Grantee:Patrícia Braz de Carvalho
Host Institution: Escola de Filosofia, Letras e Ciências Humanas (EFLCH). Universidade Federal de São Paulo (UNIFESP). Campus Guarulhos. Guarulhos , SP, Brazil


The purpose of this research is to understand, from the concept of politicization of art by Walter Benjamin, whose elaboration is present in the essay The work of art at the time of its technical reproducibility, from 1936 (second version), as it is guided, from the advent of the technical reproducibility of works of art, the emancipatory potential of cinema in Charlie Chaplin's films, a potential capable of organizing the masses through class consciousness, and even being able to unfold into revolutionary political action. From this relationship between art and politics, situated in the second period of Walter Benjamin's philosophical thought, it is proposed to analyze Benjamin's concept of play space - Spielraum -, elaborated in his political theory of art, through which we sought to understand the interaction Chaplin's technique with the technique, as well as the pantomime character of his characters, revealing the importance of the body as an instrument of reception and perception in cinema, as well as action and reflection and, finally, the experimental ordering of cinematographic space. For this purpose, some excerpts from Chaplin's films were analyzed, from the short films of his initial phase - produced by Mack Sennett at Keystone Studios, in which the pantomimic, gestural character is imperative, characterizing the slapstick comedy of the time - to his films produced by First National, between 1918-1923, in which elements of social criticism emerge. Finally, his sentimental and, to a certain extent, categorically political feature films were also covered - such as Modern Times [br: Tempos Modernos], from 1936, and The Great Dictator [br: The Great Dictator], by 1940. (AU)

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