Empathy and (Film) Fiction, by Alex Neill Essay

Empathy and (Film) Fiction, by Alex Neill Essay

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Relations between sympathy-empathy expressiveness and fiction have become a significant issue in the debate on the emotional responses to the film fiction. Due to their complexity many scholars found it useful to diagram them. With his essay, “Empathy and (Film) Fiction”, Alex Neill tries to develop new theory for analyzing the fiction and, especially, the emotional responses from the audience on it. The project of this essay is represented with an aim to show the audience the significant value of the emotional responses to the film fiction. From my point of view in the thesis of his project he asks a simple question: “Why does the (film) fiction evoke any emotions in the audience?”, further building the project in a very plain and clever way. Tracing the origins of this issue, he distinguishes between two types of emotional responses, sympathy and empathy, as separate concepts in order to understand the influence of both types of emotional responses to fiction. However, relying mostly on this unsupported discrepancy between two concepts and the influence of the “identification” concept, Neill finds himself unable to trace sympathy as a valuable response to fiction. This difficulty makes Neill argue throughout the better part of the text that empathy is the key emotional factor in the reaction to (film) fiction and that it is a more valuable type of emotional response for the audience.
In order to support his point of view Neill explains the possible reasons why people respond either sympathetically or empathetically to the fiction and how these responses are related to each other. He splits his research in three parts. For obvious reasons the first part clarifies the terms empathy and sympathy. He states that “with sympathetic ...

... middle of paper ...

...d areas, including sympathy/empathy unresponsiveness and its negative outcomes, are the topics for future researches that can help us develop our understanding of emotional responses to fiction and emotional education. The fact that most of the concepts related to the issue raised in the text can refer to numerous types of processes implies on needing and developing other theories and researches. Therefore, in my opinion, in his essay “Empathy and (Film) Fiction” Alex Neill well-studied the concept of identification, empathy and emotional response to the film and, moreover, visualized the new “fresh” understanding of the significant value of the empathetic responses.

Works Cited

Neill, Alex. “Empathy and (Film) Fiction.” Philosophy of film and motion pictures : an anthology. Ed. Noel Carrol and Jinhee Choi. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2006. 247-259. Print.

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