Bertolucci's Dream Loom: A Psychoanalytic Study of Cinema

Bertolucci's Dream Loom: A Psychoanalytic Study of Cinema

Bertolucci's Dream Loom: A Psychoanalytic Study of Cinema

Bertolucci's Dream Loom: A Psychoanalytic Study of Cinema

Excerpt

My interest in Bertolucci's work grew out of an initial encounter with Last Tango in Paris, which I found so disturbing that my unconscious "went to work" on the film. Upon waking the morning after first viewing the film, the word "Orpheus !" came to mind as some sort of talisman, which I could, at that moment, neither explain nor exorcise. This "disturbance" led me back to the film and ultimately to an essay on Last Tango, which was originally published in the International Review of Psychoanalysis in 1976 and formed the first threads of this book. From it and because of it, many other encounters with Bertolucci's work and with Bertolucci himself followed, moving forward to each new film that appeared, and backward toward Prima della rivoluzione, the last chapter to be written. Each film demanded an unusually complex and individual response, so fine was its architecture; yet from the entire set emerged a consistency of concern that demanded an overview. Given the implications of the Orpheus myth for Last Tango and the director's own tendency to speak of his work in relation to his own analysis, a psychoanalytic approach virtually imposed itself on this critical undertaking. There is, of course, a danger in imposing any methodology, coherence, or unity on a body of work so rich, complex, and, at times, anarchic. Most critical studies, however, attempt such coherence even when they disclaim it. Such is the fate of a careful reading: It offers a particular interpretation as somehow legitimized by the work under scrutiny.

I do not claim that the coherence I shall describe in Bertolucci's work is exclusive of other coherences. As Roland Barthes noted, coherence is the result of system, and it is up to each reader to acknowledge how his particular system manages to engender coherence. The ideology implicit and explicit in my approach I shall attempt to expose here in ways that both define it as a "legitimate" approach to the subject and relate it as an approach to Bertolucci's work.

I am indebted to many friends and colleagues for their encouragement, readings, and suggestions. I am especially beholden to Murray M. Schwartz, who first directed me to psychoanalysis as a tool of literary and cinematic . . .

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