Film-Philosophy 17 (1):154-176 (2013)
AbstractThis paper asks questions about 'trauma' and its cultural representation specifically, trauma's representation in the cinema. In this respect, it compares and contrasts the work of Robert Bresson, in particular his 1967 masterpiece, Mouchette , with contemporary Hollywood film. James Mangold's 1999 'Oscar-winning' Girl, Interrupted offers an interesting example for cultural comparison. In both Mouchette and Girl, Interrupted the subject matter includes, amongst other traumatic experiences, rape, childhood abuse and suicide. The paper ponders the question of whether such aspects of trauma can ever be authentically represented on film; or, whether, on the contrary, through the deployment of cultural stereotypes, cinematic representation tends rather to reproduce the very forms of structural power which are, in the first place, trauma's primary cause. Bresson emerges from this analysis in a favourable light for, whereas Mangold stereotypes victims of trauma and represents traumatic experience itself as inevitable and over-determined, Bresson always retains for the victim a sense of critical agency. By contrasting key scenes from both films, the paper suggests that contemporary popular cinema (the 'Hollywood-ized' form), working in tandem with institutions of social control, such as psychiatry, does not subvert but, in fact, reproduces patterns of structural power. This argument has particular significance for the cultural representation of women. The paper is theoretically framed by Simone Weil's reflections on both 'representation' and 'structural power'
Similar books and articles
A Phenomenology of Emotional Trauma: Around and About the Things Themselves. [REVIEW]Gretchen Gusich - 2012 - Human Studies 35 (4):505-518.
Cunneen's Bresson, on Joseph Cunneen's Robert Bresson: A Spiritual Style in Film.Robert W. Davis Jr - 2005 - Film-Philosophy 9 (4).
Trauma and Human Existence: Autobiographical, Psychoanalytic, and Philosophical Reflections.Robert D. Stolorow - 2007 - Routledge.
Betrayal Trauma: Traumatic Amnesia as an Adaptive Response to Childhood Abuse.Jennifer J. Freyd - 1994 - Ethics and Behavior 4 (4):307 – 329.
Cinema as a Representational Art.Catharine Abell - 2010 - British Journal of Aesthetics 50 (3):273-286.
Film and Phenomenology: Toward a Realist Theory of Cinematic Representation.Allan Casebier - 1991 - Cambridge University Press.
Universal Repression From Consciousness Versus Abnormal Dissociation From Self-Consciousness.Robert G. Kunzendorf - 2006 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (5):523-524.
The Traumatic Origins of Representation.Peter Poiana - 2013 - Continental Philosophy Review 46 (1):1-19.
Trauma and Human Existence : The Mutual Enrichment of Heidegger's Existential Analytic and a Psychoanalytic Understanding of Trauma.Robert D. Stolorow - 2009 - In Roger Frie & Donna M. Orange (eds.), Beyond Postmodernism: New Dimensions in Theory and Practice. New York, USA: Routledge. pp. 143-161.
On the Dialectics of Trauma in Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire.Fred Ribkoff & Paul Tyndall - 2011 - Journal of Medical Humanities 32 (4):325-337.
Memory, Trauma, and History: Essays on Living with the Past.Michael S. Roth - 2011 - Columbia University Press.
Added to PP
Historical graph of downloads
Citations of this work
No citations found.
References found in this work
The Psychic Life of Power: Theories of Subjection.J. Butler - 1997 - Human Studies 22 (1):125-131.
The Psychic Life of Power: Theories in Subjection.J. Butler - 1997 - Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie 46 (6):1016.
Cinema 1: The Movement Image.Gilles Deleuze, Hugh Tomlinson & Barbara Habberjam - 1988 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 46 (3):436-437.
The Normal and the Pathological.Georges Canguilhem & Carolyn R. Fawcett - 1991 - Journal of the History of Biology 24 (3):542-545.
Susan Bordo. Unbearable Weight: Feminism, Western Culture, and the Body. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1993. - Judith Butler. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of Sex. New York, Routledge, 1993.Susan Hekman - 1995 - Hypatia 10 (4):151-157.