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Christian Metz “A film is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand...”

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Presentation on theme: "Christian Metz “A film is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand...”"— Presentation transcript:

1 Christian Metz “A film is difficult to explain because it is easy to understand...”

2 Christian Metz: the Imaginary Signifier The function of the signifier in ordering human subjectivity: "In its deepest foundations... signification is no longer just a consequence of social development; it becomes... a party to the constitution of sociality itself, which in its turn defines the human race.... There is always a moment after the obvious observation that it is man who makes the symbol when it is also clear that the symbol makes man: this is one of the great lessons of psychoanalysis, anthropology, and linguistics" (246).

3 Jacques Lacan: Symbolic and Imaginary The Symbolic includes all expressive behaviors: language and art as well as social structures such as kinship relations (Claude Levi-Strauss). The Symbolic and the Oedipus complex: Oedipus complex and language acquisition The Law of the Father as the moral and legal prohibitions that constitute and limit subjectivity A scenario defining sexual difference The Symbolic includes not only language and expression, but all the positions of identification and subjectivity that individuals must take up in order to have a "place" in society.

4 Jacques Lacan: Symbolic and Imaginary The Imaginary is the order of the unconscious and desire. Identification and the “mirror phase” Maturation of vision ahead of motor and linguistic skills. Joy in identification with a unified image; anxiety in separation from mother’s body and unconscious acknowledge of falling short of ideal ego. An image constituted in the look of an (M)other. Misrecognition: desire can never find the expression it seeks in the Symbolic; the Symbolic never successfully contains or channels the Imaginary. For Lacan, the subject is barred from full consciousness of meaning and the satisfaction of desire.

5 Christian Metz: the Imaginary Signifier Desire as a commodity. Importance of the spectator as the mental support of the fiction. Studying meaning in film on the model of dreams, daydreams, and other forms of fantasy life. Spectator identification and the apparatus Primary identification with the camera; Secondary identification with the characters.

6 Jean-Louis Baudry: the Apparatus Cinematic technology (appareil) has two ideological objectives: A repression of the work of signification, giving the false impression that films represent reality transparently, i.e., without transforming it. Positions the spectator as an ideal or transcendental gaze, the master of a visually meaningful world. The arrangement (dispositif) of projector and screen in a darkened auditorium as analogous to psychological structures of reverie, hypnosis, or dreaming.

7 Identification: models of pleasurable looking Scopophilia: pleasure in looking. Scopic drive: a ”component instinct” that sexualizes the act of looking; Voyeurism: the power and pleasure of seeing without being seen. Disavowal: “I know very well, but....” Splitting of the ego as a process of defense. Fetishism. “The fiction film is the film in which the cinematic signifier does not work on its own account but is employed entirely to remove the traces of its own steps.”

8 Christian Metz: the Imaginary Signifier The cinematic signifier is imaginary because: It is fictional, that is, the image is the support of narrative fictions; The cinema trades on the desire of the spectator; The symbolic and technological forms of cinema produce unconscious identifications in the spectator.


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