Sending Chills Up My Spine: Somatic Film and the Care of the Self

  • Max RyynänenEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Educational Futures book series (PSEF)


In this chapter, Max Ryynänen discusses somatic film culture. Films are consciously made to produce somatic stimulation and the audience aspires to get this somatic stimulation. Examples of this kind of film use are horror, thrillers, and action movies. We feel itching in the sole, we jump up from the chair, and we feel physical disgust. This form of film Ryynänen calls somatic film. What do we learn from our bodies when we watch somatic film? Ryynänen approaches the problem through a Foucauldian perspective. In the last part of the history of sexuality, Care for the Self, Michel Foucault raised discussion about the return of (Western) bodily self-care, once central for the stoics and now again present through the contemporary project of well-being. Through challenging oneself and through reflecting on one’s own borders through film might be a form of care of the self, and a way for us to not just experiment and reflect, but to teach ourselves and learn through film about our own bodies.


  1. Argento, D. (Director), & Argento, C., and Argento, S. (Producers). (1977). Suspiria. Italy: Seda Spettacoli.Google Scholar
  2. Aristotle. (1999). Politics. Kitchener: Batoche Books.Google Scholar
  3. Benjamin, W. (1997). Charles Baudelaire: A lyric poet in the era of high capitalism. London: Verso.Google Scholar
  4. Benjamin, W. (2008). The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility. In M. Jennings, B. Doherty, & T. Levin (Eds.), The work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility and other writings on media (pp. 19–55). Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bergman, I. (Director), & Ekelund, A. (Producer). (1957). Wild strawberries. Sweden: Svensk Filmindustri AB.Google Scholar
  6. Bird, B. (Director), & Cruise, T., Abrams, J., and Burke, B. (Producers). (2011). Mission: Impossible—ghost protocol. USA: Paramount Pictures & Skydance Media & TC Productions & Bad Robot.Google Scholar
  7. Campion, J. (Director), & Chapman, J. (Producer). (1999). Piano. New Zealand: Bac Films, Miramax Films and Entertainment Film Distributors.Google Scholar
  8. Chaplin, C. (Director, Producer). (1940). The great dictator. USA: Charles Chaplin Film Corporation.Google Scholar
  9. Dali, S., and Buñuel, L. (Directors), & Buñuel, L., and Braunberger, B. (Producers). (1929). An Andalusian dog. France.Google Scholar
  10. De Kerckhove, D. (1997). Taide ja identiteetti maailmankylässä (pp. 223–238). Tampere: Vastapaino.Google Scholar
  11. Dewey, J. (1980). Art as experience. New York: Pedigree Books.Google Scholar
  12. Fiske, J. (1988). Television culture. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  13. Fo, D. (1995). Totò: Manuale dell’attor comico. Firenze: Adelph.Google Scholar
  14. Foucault, M. (1984). History of sexuality: The care of the self (Part 3). New York: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  15. Franju, G. (Director), & Borkon, J. (Producer.) (1960). Eyes without a face. France: Champs-Élysées Productions and Lux Film.Google Scholar
  16. Fujita, T. (Director), & Okuda, K. (1973). Lady snowblood. Japan: Tokyo Eiga.Google Scholar
  17. Harlin, R. (Director), & Marshall, A., & Harlin, R. (Producers). (1993). Cliffhanger. USA: Carolco Pictures, Le Studio Canal+, Pioneer Corporation and RCS Video.Google Scholar
  18. Hitchcock, A. (Director, Producer). (1958). Vertigo. USA: Alfred J. Hitchcock Productions.Google Scholar
  19. Hooper, T. (Director), & Yolan, M., & Globus, Y. (Producers). (1986). Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2. USA: The Cannon Group.Google Scholar
  20. Irigaray, L. (2004). The wedding between the body and language. In Key writings (pp. 13–22). London: Continuum.Google Scholar
  21. Kobayashi, M. (Director), & Wakatsuki, S. (Producer). (1965). Kwaidan. Japan: Bengei Pro and Ninjin Club.Google Scholar
  22. Kristeller, P. (1994). The modern system of arts: A study in the history of aesthetics. Part I. In P. Kivy (Ed.), Essays in the history of aesthetics (pp. 496–527). New York: University of Rochester Press.Google Scholar
  23. Kubrick, S. (Director & Producer). (1980). The shining. USA: The Producer Circle Company & Peregrine Productions & Hawk Films.Google Scholar
  24. Levinson, J. (2000). Musical frissons. Revue française d’études américaines, 86, 64–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Marcuse, H. (1969). An essay on liberation. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  26. Miike, T. (Director), & Funazu, A., & Miyazaki, D. (Producers). (2001). Ichi the killer. Japan: Omega Project, Omega Micott Inc., Emperor Multimedia Group, Star Max, Alpha Group, Spike Co. Ltd. and Excellent Film.Google Scholar
  27. Newmeyer, F., and Taylor, S. (Directors), & Roach, H. (Producer). (1923). Safety last. USA: Hal Roach Studios.Google Scholar
  28. Panksepp, J. (1995). The emotional sources of “chills” induced by music. Music Perception: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 13(2), 171–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Parland, H. (1970). Säginteannat. Helsinki: Söderströms.Google Scholar
  30. Petersen, W. (Director), & Weinstein, P., Katz, G., & Petersen, W. (Producers). The Perfect Storm. (2000). USA: Baltimore Pictures & Radiant Productions.Google Scholar
  31. Polanski, R. (Director), & Gutowski, G. (Producer). (1965). Repulsion. Great Britain: Compton Films and Tekli British Productions.Google Scholar
  32. Raimi, S. (Director), & Ziskin, L., Arad, A., & Curtis, G. (Producers). (2007). Spider-Man 3. USA: Columbia Pictures, Marvel Entertainment and Laura Ziskin Productions.Google Scholar
  33. Romero, G. (Director), & Streiner, R., & Hardman, K. (Producers). (1968). Night of the living dead. USA: Image Ten and The Walter Reade Organization.Google Scholar
  34. Rosenberg, B., & White, D. (Eds.). (1957). Mass culture: The popular arts in America. Glencoe: Free Press.Google Scholar
  35. Rosenberg, B., & White, D. (Eds.). (1971). Mass culture revisited. New York: Van Nostrand-Reinhold.Google Scholar
  36. Russell, G. (1999). Catharsis through sports: Fact or fiction? In The social psychology of sport (pp. 211–235). New York: Springer.Google Scholar
  37. Seldes, G. (1924). The 7 lively arts. New York: Harper & Brothers Publishers.Google Scholar
  38. Seneca (c. 65). Moral letters to Lucilius. Letter 104. Wikisource:
  39. Shusterman, R. (2012). Thinking through the body: Essays in somaesthetics. New York: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Sobchack, V. (2004). Carnal thoughts: Embodiment and moving image culture. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  41. Tatarkiewicz, W. (1980). A history of six ideas. An essay in aesthetics. Warsaw: Polish Scientific Publishers.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Tavin, K., & Kallio-Tavin, M. (2014). The cat, the cradle, and the silver spoon: Violence in contemporary art. Studies in Art Education: A Journal of Issues and Research, 56(1), 426–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Yu, Z. (2000). Eating people (Performance). Shanghai.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aalto UniversityEspooFinland

Personalised recommendations