• In order to function in our lives we actively
repress various desires, fears, memories, and
fantasies. Hence, beneath our conscious, daily
social interaction there exists a dynamic, active
realm of forces of desire that is inaccessible to
our rational logical selves.
• The unconscious is active in our
dreams, slips of the tongue, and forms
of artistic activity
• Talking cure: bringing the repressed
materials of the unconscious to the
• Film’s unconscious: Insofar as ﬁlms
deal with fantasies, they could be
considered analogous to dreams and
qualify as manifestations of the
• unconscious of the ﬁlmmaker & the
Boy develops love for his mother
= libidinal bond with the mother.
-- This is tied to the ﬁxation on the mother’s breast, its role
as a source of nourishment, the mother as the font of love,
1.Parallel to this the boy begins to identify with his father,
the ﬁgure parallel to him in terms of biological sex.
2.As a result of father’s appearance, the child gives up his
love-desire for the mother. Repress his feelings for the
mother (primal repression) because he fears father will
punish him (castration).
oedipus complex in ﬁlm
• Formation of normative identities: what does
it mean to be/come a man?
• How the male character channels his sexual
desire away from his mother towards a
• Establishment of a nuclear family: male hero /
id, superego and ego
• Id (unconscious): basic drives. Acts as pleasure
• Superego: The Super-ego strives to act in a socially
appropriate manner, whereas the id just wants instant
self-gratiﬁcation. The Super-ego controls our sense of
right and wrong and guilt.
• Ego: Separates what is real. It seeks to please the id’s
drive in realistic ways. Balance between primitive
drives and reality (defence mechanisms)
1) Super-ego = moral conscience, self-disciplining mechanism; it operates by
producing a sense of guilt.
2) The super-ego is formed by a process Freud calls "introjection" = the
internalization of parental, especially paternal authority.
-- The authority of the father is assimilated by the son into his own psychic
3) The super-ego is a form of mimesis, imitation of the father; but this
imitation also caries with it the prohibition of being exactly like the father.
4) The super-ego is the source of religious feelings: it is a substitute for the
lost father, just as for Freud "God" is a substitute for the lost father.
3 registers of
• Imaginary Real
• Mirror phase (mimicry): The child identiﬁes with an
image outside himself be it a real mirror image or
simply the image of another.
• The child’s captivation in the image. An
identiﬁcation with the other party.
• Mastery of one’s motor functions and entry into the
• Construction of Ego: the ego is
constructed by an alienating
identiﬁcation, based on an initial lack of
completeness in the body and nervous
• Entry into the symbolic universe
• Symbolic pronouncements: “You look
just like your father”, “What a bad boy
• The ideal: symbolic identiﬁcation with a
• Unconscious: removes the subject from
the world of the images. Give him a
base in the symbolic world.
ideal ego and ego ideal
• Ideal Ego: the image you assume
• Ego Ideal: the symbolic point which gives you
a place and supplies the point from which you
are looked at (who is it that you are
identifying with this ﬁgure)
• The unconscious is structured like a
• Symptom: words trapped in the body
the name of the father
• Paternity: the symbolic structures
which organize the relation of man to
woman (by following these we become
part of the symbolic network)
• Oedipus complex: entering the
• Phallus: the object of mother’s desire
• Child Mother
• Child tries to be the phallus for the
• Castration: the renunciation of the
sustained attempt to be the phallus for
• In the larger universe of symbolic
world: the phallus will be the object
promised to the child for use in the
desire and lack
• Demand is ultimately a demand for
love, and for this reason unsatisﬁable.
• Desire: takes up what has been eclipsed
at the level of need (distortion)
• Wish: something you want consciously
• That which isn’t symbolized, which is
excluded from the symbolic.
• Reality: an amalgam of symbolic and
imaginary (specular register + meaning).
• The real would represent what is excluded
• Imaginary-real axis (instead of
• Fantasy is not in opposition to reality
but that which secures and anchors our
sense of reality
• It is fantasy which makes reality’s brute
facility (the Real) meaningful and
• Sustains, suspends and subverts the
apparent meaning or logic of an event
• Mechanism of gender imbalance:
• Classical Hollywood: gender sustains the
ﬁlm (i.e. woman as objects traded between
men, possessed by the look)
• ﬁlm noir: femme fatale announce the agony of
classical patriarchy (subversion)
• The regime of the brothers: with the
‘death’ of the totemic father social
power reconstitutes itself around the
‘regime of the brother’, held together by
mutual implication in crime, bonded
through acts of violence, and sustained
by rituals of humiliation.
• Desire-creatures: live under the threat
of castration (for them desire is a
function of lack, and lack can be ‘ﬁlled’
by a fetish-formation)
• Drive-creatures: are not subject to
desire: they go on regardless, they are
unstoppable, unkillable, because they
embody the death drive.
• The social realm: authoritarian-without-
authority: without the traditional
legitimacy of the symbolic as manifest
(‘submission to the law of castration’)
the ethics of guilt
• The superego orders you to enjoy doing
what you have to do:
• The categorical imperative (Kant): “You
can do your duty, because you must do
• Superego: “You must do your duty,
because you can” (seem to offer a free