Imagined and Unseen Violence in Film

What is imagined violence in a film? It is when a film insinuates a violent moment, object, or background without showing it to the audience. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, the simplest being just describing something violent which happened off camera. A more complicated and rewarding approach is when filmmaking techniques stand in for on-screen violence. The cut of the camera becomes a surrogate for the cut of knife, with the film itself becoming a type of body to be divided, spliced, and reassembled.

Sometimes this form of editing can intensify the violence in a scene, other times it becomes the violence. We may not see any blood or gore, but the camerawork fills in the blank.

I will be focusing on a few examples of imagined violence this week, specifically why and how they operate. I will also draw attention to films which are aware of the politics around violence, and use that to create a more complicated viewing experience.