With the publication of Film Fables in 2001 (English translation 2006), Ranciére added cinema to the broad array of subjects to which he had devoted major works. Before that, by writing extensively on film in articles and shorter sections of books, he had already shown that cinema was an important component in his thinking on aesthetics. Film turns out for Ranciére to present a special case, highlighting a problem that stems from a basic contradiction of art in the modern era that he develops in many of his writings. This problem has to do with the relationship between art and reality during what he terms “the aesthetic age”, the period following the creation of the branch of philosophy called aesthetics in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, among whose principal theorists are F. W. J. Schelling and G. W. F. Hegel. During this period, art claims an autonomy by freeing itself from its representational or mimetic function. According to Ranciére, this development in the theory and practice of art lead them to run up against impasses. As a result of these impasses, cinema especially among the arts is involved in what Ranciére terms a “thwarted fable”, an idea that I shall examine further in the first section below.
Closely related to this problem, since the relationship of art to reality has to do with the role of art in the social world, is the inevitable confrontation between aesthetics and politics, which Ranciére sees played out very strongly in cinema.