Holy Motors: Metameditation on Digital Cinema’s Present and Future

Ohad Landesman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Holy Motors (2012, dir. Leos Carax) is a film that poses many challenges for the viewer. It proceeds without any narrative logic, embraces a fragmented and disorienting structure, provides unmotivated character behavior, and produces epistemological confusion. This chapter argues that Carax’s film should be understood primarily as a metacinematic work about both the death of cinema and its concurrent rebirth, and that it represents and complicates cultural and critical anxieties about the impact of new technologies on cinema’s development in the twenty-first century. Holy Motors is used as a rich case study for evaluating the merits and limitations of mourning cinema’s passing era in the midst of the technological revolution. The film, it is argued, invites us to re-evaluate today the early rhetoric of crisis, death, and rupture, prevalent in the early days of digital cinema, and to trace not only what has been arguably lost in the transition, but also what could be ultimately gained from it.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMetacinema
Subtitle of host publicationThe Form and Content of Filmic Reference and Reflexivity
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780190095345
ISBN (Print)9780190095352
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Death of cinema
  • Denis lavant
  • Digital cinema
  • Film celluloid
  • Holy Motors
  • Leos carax
  • Motion capture
  • Nostalgia
  • Performance
  • Étienne-jules marey


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