Framing the human-animal: Fantasy and Allegory in The Lobster
SourceFilm-Philosophy Conference -Lancaster University, 4 - 6 July, 2017
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In this paper, we will consider the ways in which the human-animal relation receives equivocal treatment in The Lobster(dir. G. Lanthimos, 2015). In The Lobster, the age-old fantastical motif of animal transformation in myth and literature is used in a Kafkaesque narrative, in so far as this extraordinary transformation is integrated in an otherwise mundane futuristic and heterotopic world. The cinematic ellipsis of the process of transformation directs viewers toward an allegorical interpretation of the 'becoming animal', rather than focusing the spectator's imagination on the process of physical transformation itself. Consequently, the potential affective impact has less to do with the viewer's visual pleasure than their ideological bias on the human-animal relation. The hyphen may indicate a gap (the divide between humans and animals) or a continuum (the animal human). In the same way, 'framing' here refers to how the film presents this relation, and also raises the queestion of whether the film is biased toward one or the other understanding of the human. Either way, the image of the non-human animal, speculation on the human-animal and post-human(ism) cannot be ignored in a philosophical cinematic experience, which we argue is precisely what the film encourages. Our approach will consider the importance of the ideological bias in post-human philosophy and cinema and ways this can be gauged by the function of literary tropes and cinematic techniques.