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Marinelli, L. (2004). Smoking, Laughing, and the Compulsion to Film: On the Beginnings of Psychoanalytic Documentaries. Am. Imago, 61(1):35-58.

(2004). American Imago, 61(1):35-58

Smoking, Laughing, and the Compulsion to Film: On the Beginnings of Psychoanalytic Documentaries

Lydia Marinelli

Translated by:
Christopher Barber

“The projectionist has informed us that the pictures would be enjoyed much more and would be clearer if fewer people were smoking.”

—Announcement made by Philip R. Lehrman during the screening of the film Sigmund Freud, His Family, and Colleagues, 1928-1947

Blue Haze

Scene: The cigar is thrown away with a hasty, almost annoyed gesture—smoking is prohibited during the shooting, but only for the “star.” He complies with the injunction unwillingly and only after it has been repeated several times. The tribute that he must pay to the camera is nothing less than the renunciation of the insignia by which the public identifies him. Contrastingly, the “supporting actors” smoke continually, as if their cigarettes had to compensate for this lost signifier. The forbidden cigar and the rising clouds of smoke that blur the images are among the most important props of the film.

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