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Kaplan, E.A. (1995). Introduction. Am. Imago, 52(2):127-130.

(1995). American Imago, 52(2):127-130


E. Ann Kaplan

The first issue of American Imago devoted to “Psychoanalysis and Cinema” focused largely on issues to do with the feminine in cinema. The volume revisited, critiqued, and reflected upon seventies and eighties feminist film theories: an essay critiquing theories was followed by one that built on existing paradigms so as to include the psyche among political discourses forming the social field; another opened up the question of race and psychoanalysis, a fourth advanced a theory of fetishistic structure in Hollywood film, and yet another explored phallic women in Hollywood films. A final essay argued for a postmodern psychoanalysis that calls into question the entire process of referring back to “origins.”

This second volume brings together articles written by male film critics on two main themes, which are explored using psychoanalytic paradigms, namely those of masculinity in the cinema and of cinema aesthetics, the spectator and politics. As in the prior volume, authors use psychoanalysis to varying degrees and in quite different ways.

On the masculinity theme, Jurgen Reeder writes from Stockholm about what he calls the American “psychopath films” which are often brushed off as “mere entertainment.” Reeder argues that the scenarios of repeated psychopath films evidence “an epoch's need to explore an experience that as yet has not been adequately formulated and thematized” (1). Reeder explores the specific repeated theme of the primitive Oedipal struggle between a young man and an older one who could be his father as it is worked out in the 1986 film, The Hitcher. The repeated theme, Reeder argues, bears witness to the crisis of masculinity in American culture—but also to the fact that neither the film nor the culture know what is wrong, nor what can be done.

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