When Viewers Drift Off: A Brief Phenomenology of Cinematic Daydreaming

Hanich, J., Sep-2019, The Structures of the Film Experience by Jean-Pierre Meunier: Historical Assessments and Phenomenological Expansions. Hanich, J. & Fairfax, D. (eds.). Amsterdam University Press, p. 336-352 17 p.

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Inspired by Jean-Pierre Meunier and expanding some of his original ideas, this article looks at cinematic daydreaming as an act of consciousness viewers are sometimes engaged in over and above the perception of the film. After defining the term ‘cinematic daydreaming,’ I distinguish three relations the daydream can have to the film. Subsequently, I offer a concrete description of the cinematic daydreaming experience by focusing on five aspects: (1) the degrees of controllability, (2) the declining attentiveness to the perceptual surroundings, (3) the attenuated ‘power’ of the film, (4) the shift into a more private mode, and (5) intrusive day-dreams that interfere with the film vs. extensive daydreams that enrich it.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Structures of the Film Experience by Jean-Pierre Meunier
Subtitle of host publicationHistorical Assessments and Phenomenological Expansions
EditorsJulian Hanich, Daniel Fairfax
PublisherAmsterdam University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)978-90-485-3784-6
Publication statusPublished - Sep-2019


  • film theory, Film phenomenology, daydreaming, screen studies

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