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Benton, R. Tylim, I. (1997). Introduction To The Special Issue: Film And Violence. Psychoanal. Rev., 84(5):657-665.

(1997). Psychoanalytic Review, 84(5):657-665

Introduction To The Special Issue: Film And Violence

Robert Benton and Isaac Tylim, Psy.D.

Film and psychoanalysis have maintained an ambivalent relationship, despite their parallel development and 100 years of admitted or denied reciprocal influences. At the threshold of the twenty-first century, psychoanalysis and cinema—the revolutionary modern art form—have begun to engage in a creative exchange, searching for a new language capable of bridging the gap between the internal, private world and the external, public one of shared images and representations.

Images in films, like symptoms, or dreams, conceal while revealing. Theirs is an expressive quality with the power to condense multiple layers of meaning into a single representation or composition. A film may be approached like a text to be read, a text that demands a thorough reading in order to arrive at the repressed layers of its ever-evasive, slippery images. The visual dialectic established by the evocative presence and absence of film images demands more than one reading or viewing of the film to reach the subtexts of the narrative. Multiple viewings of a film may render obvious the not so obvious.

Over the last twenty-five years, film audiences have witnessed major shifts in regard to what may or may not be represented on the screen. Explicit sexual and/or violent images have become almost necessary elements in contemporary films. From Last Tango in Paris to Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction, the cinema has been converted into a supermarket of overstimulation.

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