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Katz, A.W. (2007). Perversion, Fetish, and Creativity: The Fate of Desire in “Utz”. Psychoanal. Rev., 94(6):943-966.

(2007). Psychoanalytic Review, 94(6):943-966

Perversion, Fetish, and Creativity: The Fate of Desire in “Utz”

Anita Weinreb Katz, Ph.D.

Honoreé de Balzac was a passionate collector who grew up in painful circumstances with a cold and rejecting mother. “Cut off already from all affection,” he wrote, “I could love nothing, and Nature had made me loving! Is there an angel who collects the sighs of such ever-present feelings?” (Balzac, 1900).

George Sluizer's film Utz, based on the novella by Bruce Chatwin (1998), is a complex and poignant portrayal of another collector, another man whose lot it was to have had his loving nature thwarted by circumstance. Utz is a many-layered film, weaving psychological, political, and cultural issues into an intricate tapestry, but it is also the love story of two unusual people. Sluizer tells us very little about the histories of Baron Kaspar Joachim von Utz and the woman we know only as Marta. His revelations are sparing and carefully timed. Nor does he give Utz much of a plot in the conventional sense. Yet he strikes chords that move the viewer deeply, perhaps more deeply than an ordinary narrative would have done. I focus in this study on how desire and longing—the “ever-present feelings” of Balzac's dilemma—live and move in the lives of Sluizer's subjects, and their fate in their world.

An earlier version of this paper was presented on November 8, 2002, at the colloquium “Looking Out; Looking In: Cinema and Psychoanalysis,” sponsored by the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.

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