Realistic Humanism: Luc Dardenne as a Philosopher and Filmmaker

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Walter Lesch


Luc Dardenne is not only a successful filmmaker together with his brother Jean-Pierre. He is also a stimulating philosopher who has reflected on the influence of Emmanuel Levinas on the brothers’ cinematic work. This article shows typical constellations of film and philosophy and focuses on the special contribution of a Levinasian perspective on face-to-face encounters, violence and compassion as central topics in the films of the Dardennes. Luc Dardenne has developed his philosophical approach in his diaries and in the essay The Human Affair published in 2012. This text can be used as a key for the understanding of the film The Kid with a Bike from 2011.

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How to Cite
LESCH, Walter. Realistic Humanism: Luc Dardenne as a Philosopher and Filmmaker. Journal for Religion, Film and Media (JRFM), [S.l.], v. 2, n. 2, may 2017. ISSN 2414-0201. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 18 oct. 2017. doi:
Humanism, realism, responsibility, Levinas, moral philosophy, aesthetics
Articles - CfP topic



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Quoted films

LA PROMESSE (THE PROMISE, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, BE/LU/FR 1996).

ROSETTA (ROSETTA, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, FR/BE 1999).

LE FILS (THE SON, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, FR/BE 2002).

L’ENFANT (THE CHILD, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, FR/BE 2005).

LE GAMIN AU VÉLO (THE KID WITH A BIKE, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, FR/BE/IT 2011).

LA FILLE INCONNUE (THE UNKOWN GIRL, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, BE/FR 2016).