Undoing the Image: Film Theory and Psychoanalysis

Paula Quigley


The primary aim of this article is to point up an essential attitude, an anxiety even, that has inflected – and perhaps inhibited - our engagement with film. Film theory has been marked by a ‘refusal to see, a looking away’ (Mulvey & Wollen 1976, 36), and my suggestion is that this has achieved its fullest expression in those strands of film theory heavily influenced by psychoanalysis. These, in turn, have remained within a gendered conceptual framework whereby the discursive or the narrative is associated with the masculine, and the image or spectacle is aligned with the feminine. This is not to reject these applications out of hand but rather to revisit this area with its blind spots in mind and to consider aspects that are perhaps at once obvious but often overlooked.


Film Theory; Psychoanalysis

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