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Storck, T. (2016). Why Drive? Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Film Never Let Me Go. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 97(1):187-201.

(2016). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 97(1):187-201

Film Essay

Why Drive? Psychoanalytic Reflections on the Film Never Let Me Go

Timo Storck

(Accepted for publication 3 December 2014)

The author presents a psychoanalytic interpretation of Mark Romanek's film Never Let Me Go, which concerns a society in which young adult clones have their internal organs ‘harvested’ for transplantation. Following some general remarks on the method of psychoanalytic film interpretation, strongly emphasising the aesthetics of form and artistic elements specific to film, the author develops the notion that through its cinematic perspectives and shots, Never Let Me Go dramatizes a specific relationship between the sublime and solitude. The film therefore deals with a particular intrinsic difference between expanse and constraint, as well as the limited and the eternal. This leads the viewer to participate directly in a film-specific way in the inner conflicts at work both in the film's theme and in its protagonists.

In terms of aesthetic content, these conflicts are revealed as those of an inescapable thanatological theme that is essentially intertwined with an erotic one. The film shows how love, sexuality, and internal and external images arise from thanatological forces, and it simultaneously provides a way of sublating them (Hegel's Aufhebung) - that is, the film itself represents a benign drive fusion. The film's protagonists, however, struggle with a lack of early parenting and thus with the helplessness of facing individual drive development and the longing for a holding object. Hence, in formal terms, the film deals with the sublime, and, as I will show, it also deals with sublimation at the level of its content.

[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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