“We have to believe that new images are still possible”. This remark by Norwegian filmmaker Joachim Trier during a recent event in Oslo entitled ‘The Sublime Image’ speaks to the centrality in his work of images, often of trauma, that aspire to the condition of photographic stills or paintings. A hand against a window, cheerleaders tumbling against an azure sky, an infant trapped under a lake’s icy surface: these can certainly be read as sublime images insofar as we might read the sublime as an affect—a sense of the ineffable or the shock of the new. However, for Trier, cinema is an art of memory and here too, this article argues, his films stage an encounter with the temporal sublime and the undecidability of memory. Offering readings of Trier’s four feature films to date which center on their refraction of memory through crystal-images, the article emphasizes the affective encounter with the films as having its own temporality.
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