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Edwards, J. (2014). Sifting through the Sands of Time: Mourning and Melancholia Revisited via the Documentary Nostalgia for the Light (2011). Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 95(4):791-799.

(2014). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 95(4):791-799

Film Essay

Sifting through the Sands of Time: Mourning and Melancholia Revisited via the Documentary Nostalgia for the Light (2011) Language Translation

Judith Edwards

Film is of crucial importance in offering the opportunity to explore similar territory to that which the psychoanalyst studies in a different medium. The power of images and music together may create an extra dimension not possible with words alone. Viewing a film, as we normally do, in the darkness of a space shared with others, offers a specialized experience, partaking both of group and individual associations and states of mind. Associations to clinical material as well as one's own personal experiences are evoked. There are also of course issues about what of our experience we may project into film as well as what we may receive from the film and from the others with whom we share the experience.

Nostalgia for the Light (2011) is a documentary film by Patrick Guzman, one of Chile's foremost directors, set in the Atacama Desert in Chile, 10,000 feet above sea level. It immediately resonated with me and clearly with the original audience as a different way of thinking about the difference between mourning, melancholia, failed mourning and how to try to differentiate between these states of mind. This piece is not a ‘film review’ in the classical sense: much as a film editor might do, I have chosen to major on an overall theme. As is the issue with any ‘review’, a film interacts with the viewer's conscious and also unconscious preoccupations.

The opening footage shows the painstaking and laborious assembling of an old German telescope, iron wheels and brass cogs creaking and turning.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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