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Film Theory - Freud and Lacan

Film Theory Goes to the Movies

Catriona Miller

on 20 February 2018

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Transcript of Film Theory - Freud and Lacan

Film Theory Goes to the Movies
Psycho-analysis: Freud & Lacan

"The encounter between psychoanalysis and the cinema was in one sense the culmination of a long flirtation, since both were born around the same time – Freud first used the term psycho-analysis’ in 1896, just one year after the first screenings of the Lumiére films in the Grand Café" (Stam, 2000: p.vi)
Today we'll consider:
Sigmund Freud
Some revisions by Jacques Lacan
Psycho-analysis and film - first thoughts
For Freud, this myth was a metaphor for the origins of adult neurosis
From ancient Greek myth – the hero of whom it was prophesied at his birth that he would kill his father and marry his mother. Horrified by this his parents try to kill their child, but he is rescued and grows up to kills his father and marry Jocasta, his mother.
edipus and the Sphinx
Gustave Moreau, 1864
Oedipus Myth
The Murder of Laius by Oedipus
Paul Joseph Blanc, 1867
Oedipus Complex
Arises from the desire of the child (around age five) to possess the opposite sex parent and ‘do away with’ the the parent of the same sex. There was inevitable conflict between desire and fear of retribution.

This ‘fear of retribution’ came in the form of the FATHER, who has a phallus. The child (male) notes the mother doesn’t have one, and so fears that she is castrated, and that he will be too! And so renounces the mother.
This renunciation of the mother is the moment of primal repression that marks the founding of the unconscious.
Harold Speed, 1907
Reworks the moment of primal repression towards the acquisition of language... though he doesn't throw away the mother's role altogether.
Harold Speed, 1907
Semiotics started to examine the 'denotation' (signifier) part of the film text.
Marxist ideology started to examine part of the the 'connotation' (signified) mental component of the film text. But was really looking at external cultural influences on the spectator.
By using psycho-analysis film theorists began to ask who was doing the meaning making, a question of subjectivity (who is the subject?). Psycho-analysis starts to bring in the psyche of the spectator
the unconscious.
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