Inhospitable World: Cinema in the Time of the Anthropocene (Oxford UP, 2018) explores the connection between cinema and artificial weather, climates, and even planets in or on which hospitality and survival are at stake. Cinema’s dominant mode of aesthetic world-making is often at odds with the very real human world it is meant to simulate. The chapters in this book take the reader to a scene —the mise-en-scène— where human world-making is undone by the force of human activity, whether it is explicitly for the sake of making a film, or for practicing war and nuclear science, or for the purpose of addressing climate change in ways that exacerbate its already inhospitable effects. The episodes in this book emphasize our always unnatural and unwelcoming environment as a matter of production, a willed and wanted milieu, however harmful, that is inseparable from but also made perceivable through film.

While no one film or set of films adds up to a totalizing explanation of climate change, cinema enables us to glimpse anthropogenic environments as both an accidental effect of human activity and a matter of design. Chapters on Buster Keaton, American atomic test films, film noir, the art of China’s Three Gorges Dam, and films of early Antarctic exploration trace parallel histories of film and location design that spell out the ambitions, sensations, and narratives of the Anthropocene, especially as it consolidates into the Great Acceleration starting in 1945.

Jennifer Fay is Associate Professor of English and Director of Film Studies, Vanderbilt University

Gustavo E. Gutiérrez Suárez is MA in Anthropology, and BA in Social Communication. His areas of interest include Andean and Amazonian Anthropology, Film theory and aesthetics. You can follow him on Twitter vía @GustavoEGSuarez.

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