Psychoanalysis and Film


I am prepping to teach my class, computers robots and film, and I bought a bunch of discounted short cuts books. Short cuts is a fantastic series – I highly recommend it. One of the books I got focused on psychoanalysis and film.

It begins with a discussion of how mind blowing the invention of motion pictures actually was! For psychoanalysis, film seemed capable of representing mental phenomena in a way that other art forms could not. Since it was both image based and time based it had analogues to dream logic and logic outside .  Art in general is the epiphenomena of the psyche in a way that is perhaps different from all other mediums.  Art is the subjective creation of an individuals mind and does not have to conform to any sort of consensus reality (ie objective thought)

What was interesting to me, on a meta level, was the idea that films represents the psyche of a culture – it is the dream of a culture. Really, we could say art in general could constitute the psyche of a culture, not just film.  That way film or art analysis could proceed from the perspective of psychoanalysis.

What does that mean exactly?  What does it mean to interpret a anything psychologically, instead of perhaps historically, or aesthetically. We can look at a film and examine what items are representation of cultural complexes (something like perhaps fascism in pre ww2 german cinema), what story arcs and dramatic narratives can we considered cultural symptoms of underlying neurosis. For example, in looking at science fiction films we can consider the anti social inventor/programmer as symptom of some sort of cultural neurosis about what it means to be an inventor. What in this is part of an archetype in the collective unconscious and what part of this is symptomatic of the culture.

In my syllabus I say that representations of robots and computers in film are the dreams of society- they represent our unconscious thoughts about robots and computers.  What are the images of our egos? and what are the images of our unconscious?