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Classical film theory brought ideas of how films are formally constructed and they
focused on the significance of film as a iconic sign. Contemporary film theory, however,
is concern with film as a exchange of meaning between the subject and a set of signifiers
(Fourie, 2002: 223). This newly placed emphasis is on the viewer's experience and has
given rise to new disciplines in modern film theorizing none more intrigue, and
controversial, than the application of Sigmund Freud's psychoanalytical principles of the
unconscious. Freud stressed that human behavior is a result of intrapsychic forces in
conflict and that in order to analyze these forces he had to find ways of tapping into the
unconscious of his patients. Some of his controversial methods included free association,
hypnosis and dream interpretation.

According to Metz (in Fourie, 2002:229) one of the reasons viewers identify with their
action of perception is that "film corresponds to people's 'perception' and experience of
their own dreams", it for this reason that psychoanalysis is interested in the positioning of
the viewer as a spectator who is actively involved while at the same time passively
guided through any given feature. In is therefore in the interest of psychoanalytical film
theorist to actively theories about the object/subject (i.e. object being the film and the
subject the viewer) relationship and its connection to unconscious psychological
structures that operate within the viewer. This paper will outline and describe the main
aspects of psychoanalytical film theory as well as provide relevant examples through
Fincher's (1998) adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club. Issues of spectatorship and
identification will be addressed in accordance with the filmic apparatus theory as well
through acknowledging Lacanian psychoanalysis as an extension of Freud's original


The film is told by an unnamed narrator who tells of his personal journey of self-
discovery through his schizophrenic experiences. The narrator describes the sequence of

events that lead to his present predicament where he is 'held' at gunpoint by what turns
out to be a character of his own construction, called Tyler Durden. The flashback begins
with the narrator describing his chronic insomnia as it deprives him of any ability to
function normally during work and other daily normality’s. After his doctor declines his
request for medical intervention, he finds himself at a series of group therapies, through
which he finds a strange medium for releasing his compounding anxiety and stresses.
After a year of psuedo-emotional purging with a variety of group therapies, the narrator's
happy existence is foiled when a female named Marla starts showing up at all of his
group therapies. Distressed by her presents, knowing that she is clearly too a fake, the
narrator returns to his insomninatic ways and his world returns to fuzz of meaningless

During one of his frequent business trips, the narrator encounters a man by the name of
Tyler Durden. After returning and 'discovering' that his apartment has been unexplainably
blown up, the narrator phones Tyler and eventually asks if he could stay at his place since
he is now homeless. The narrator and Tyler end up living in the dilapidated house on
'Paper Street’ and proceed to fight each other. They soon attract the attention of others
who are drawn to the idea, soon the two have established a elite fighting club in the
basement of a rough biker bar which is characterized by a series of rules (namely that
"you do not talk about Fight Club" - Tyler). As the narrator enjoys his new outlook on
life, his perceptions on otherwise normal activities changes, he starts to become very
aloof and uninterested at work and he becomes consumed by his new lifestyle with Tyler.
Unexpectedly, the narrator receives a call from Marla from his past support groups, he
rejects her efforts to become closer to him but his newly found housemate does not, thus
she becomes a reoccurring influence in his relationship with Tyler. However, the
narrator's life is still relatively stable at this point.

This illusionary sense of stability is soon questioned as Tyler secretively turns, an

otherwise recreational, Fight Club into a terror organization under the new title of 'Project
Mayhem'. The narrator is somewhat annoyed in the fact that Tyler has not informed him
of the new cult and finds it impossible to learn of it because the rules of Tyler's new club

(for one they cannot ask questions regarding the projects happenings). After the narrator
learns the extreme nature of Project Mayhem's objectives he begins to question Tyler and
his radical ideologies of modern society. Soon after which Tyler leaves mysteriously and
when the narrator attempts to located him, he finds that there are numerous 'Project
Mayhem' groups around the country, and when he learns that the main objective is to
blow up a series of credit card company buildings he becomes highly concerned and
attempts to rectify the matter

Tyler then tells the Narrator that Marla has compromised his objectives and she must be
'dealt' with. The narrator at this point goes against his alter ego and attempts to save her
and disarm the bombs in one of the buildings. Tyler 'catches' him in the act and proceeds
to attack him vigorously; ultimately their confrontation is resolved when the narrator puts
a gun to his head and shots. The shot manages to 'kill' Tyler, while leaving the narrator
injured. The narrator is then reunited with Marla (as the Project Mayhem had tracked her
down and brought her to him) and gains her forgiveness (for treating her so badly), the
bombs go off and Tyler's plan is achieved. In order to be able to apply psychoanalylitical
film principles we first need to understand the process and function of film as understood
by the viewer.


The psychoanalytical tradition was made famous by the Austrian psychologist Sigmund
Freud, who's work was profoundly influenced by Jean Charcot's original experiments
with hypnosis and Josef Breuer's research on hysteria (Hergenhahn, 2005: 477-482).
Freud began to expand on the idea of hypnosis and dreams as a means of understanding
the unconscious process that he believed undermined all human thoughts and behavior.
Although his theories were received with a large amount of criticism, his early lecture's
on psychoanalysis and dream interpretation have raised great interest in the minds of past
and present psychologists. In the Introductory Lectures on Psychonoanalysis, "Feud
wrote as if the cinema were a cultural form directly antithetical to psychoanalysis" (Freud
in Cook & Bernik, 1998:341).


Freud believed that "[Dreams are] the royal road to the unconscious." and that they
contained important clues into the human psyche (Weiter, 2004:195), much of his initial
research methods involved questioning his patients on there dream experience’s and
using their descriptions as a means of uncovering their 'true' motivations and perceptions
on the world.

3.1.2. Dreamworks

Psychoanalytical thinking maintains that dreams are a direct result of incomplete

repression of anxiety producing thoughts that cannot be social expressed due to the
explicit rules of the external world (Kluge, 1999). It is in this vein that dreams are
thought exist on two distinct and paradoxical levels. Firstly, the images and recollections
of the dreamer are believe to constitute the manifest content that is a result of the 'id's'
(discussed in 3.2.2) attempt to literally disguise the, secondary, latent content in order to
protect the mind from further, and conscious, anxiety (Flitterman, 2002). It was believed
that these images produced during dreaming were a way in which the mind protected
itself of compound natural urges by 'releasing' them through manifestations that would
leave the subject with a sense of unknowing catharsis, while protecting the conscious
mind of these inherent urges. Kluge describes the dream-work concept in relation to film
as follows:

"Film operates on much the same principle...film speaks directly to the unconscious, the
language of dreams is one that is not an abstract form of communication such as
narrative, but is one that is filled with images they carry hidden meanings on a latent
level. Just so is the language of film organized so that only a part of the film is
communicated in a narrative form - sound and images make up the majority of the
effect." (Kluge, 1999)

Therefore, the nature that is film can be, to a degree, deconstructed in order to unveil a
universal understanding of our thoughts and behaviors that through identification,
contributes towards our enjoyment of the film as it acts as a release mechanism of these

id induced impulses. However, it is important to understand how film relates to the
cinematic experience on a metaphysical level in order to fully justify the application of
psychoanalysis to film, to this extent in is necessary to discuss Christian Metz's
'Apparatus theory' in conjunction with the notion of the 'imaginary signifier' in order to
justify the dream-film correlation.

3.1.3. Filmic Apparatus and The "Imaginary Signifier"

The film going experience has long been associated with a suspension of disbelief, while
at the same time involving the viewer in a identification process with the narrative. Metz
argues that "...to watch a film in a cinema is to be seduced, encouraged to regress
furtively to a childhood state where fantasy is permitted free rein" (Metz in Cook &
Bernik, 1998:348), in other words film acts a means to engage viewers in a dream-like
state whereby the images on screen are reminiscent of the sensations and manifest
content caused by the unconscious identification with the latent content. This is a result of
what is know as the 'Apparatus' theory, the concept is that the cinematic process involves
a number of tangible and intangible elements that lead to an object/subject relationship
that allows this 'filmic apparatus' to imitate the processes of the human unconscious
(Fourie, 2002:227). Filmic apparatus involves the technical nature of film communication
(i.e. the effects of camera, lighting, sound, projection, etc.); the physical environment the
viewer finds themselves in (the dark theatre, size of the screen, the projector); the image
in itself and its inherent quality (i.e. film as a mimicial device and as a iconic
representation of a illusioned reality) and, most importantly, the mental process of the
viewer (Fourie, 2002:227-228). Although the physical environment in which films are
viewed may differ (i.e. one might watch on a smaller home television), the principles
remain the same, as the gestaltic film experience is still relevant and ultimately cohesive,
in other words the Apparatus theory would still apply.

The result of the Apparatus theory is that the image seen by the viewer is essentially
absent. The visual array of information the viewer experiences (characters, settings,
dialogue, etc.) is projected as a intangible spectacle, it is only on the film's celluloid that

the concreteness of any variable information can be located and measured. In other words
"the actors, the events, that depict the content are physically absent and exists merely as
light and sound on celluloid; that exists only in and through the camera and projector
signals, which are themselves empty forms that have no existence outside the total filmic
apparatus." (Fourie, 2002:227). This film is recognized as a 'imaginary signifier' that
serves purely as a means through which the viewer can 'engage' in the process of
identification and spectatorship.

3.1.4. Spectatorship and Identification

Metz argues "that although the viewer identifies with the fictional character(s), and
although such identification is part of the enjoyment of the film, it is a secondary
identification" and that before this secondary identification occurs the viewer goes
through primary identification that is a result of the viewer identifying with their sense of
perception or, in other words, with the projected images on screen (Metz in Fourie,
2002). The viewer is aware that the images they are watching are not happening in 'real'
time and that they are, in fact, absent. These results in a viewer being in a positioning of
'all-seeing mastery', this reinforces the viewer’s identification with the camera and the
resultant perspective it produces. It is this identification with the camera that resembles
the dream-like experience described earlier. The viewer's engagement with the language
and with media reaches deep into the very process of identity formation (Flitterman-
Lewis, 2002).

The reason the perceptions of film relate so strongly to self-identification can be describe
through Jacques Lacan's 'mirror stage', in this stage in childhood development (around
the age of six months) the child catches his/her reflection in a reflective surface (mirror or
even his mother's face) and see the reflection as gestaltic image of their otherwise
unconnected being. It is this, according to Lacan, that the child form the sense of "I" and
gender, albeit a false sense because the image in the mirror is in fact a representation of,
rather than the actual child (Cook & Bernik, 1998: 347). This is the beginning of the

identification of one's self through the 'wholeness' perceived in others, and henceforth the
child forms a sense of self through the perceptions of others. Therefore, the process of
identification film is a direct result of the original identification with the image the child
viewed in the 'mirror'.

The parody here is that although the process of identification is one of the main
motivational factors for the enjoyment of film (albeit a seemingly narcissistic pleasure),
the viewer is still a spectator to the events portrayed. This blurs the line between the
object/subject relationship and accounts for the viewer’s idiosyncratic mental process that
simultaneously allows the viewer to engage in/ and distance themselves from the images.


It has now been shown that the manner in which films and dreams work is very similar.
What now has to be shown is that the actual work they both accomplish is equally
similar, and yet slightly more conscious. The follow section of this essay will illustrate
how psychoanalysis relates to the manifest content of Fincher's Fight Club (1998) in
revealing a latent content that reflects psychoanalylitical principles of the unconscious.


According to original Freudian psychoanalysis, there are three basic structures that,
together, determined the nature of personality; they are the 'ego', 'superego' and the 'id'
(Weiten, 2004:481). It is through the interaction of these three elements that the majority
of psychoanalytical assumptions are based. Wieten defines these terms, rather
simplistically, as follow:

"The id is the primitive, instinctive component of personality that operates according to

the pleasure principle (instincts such as hunger, sex, thirst)...The ego is the decision-
making component, that operates according to the reality principle... The superego is the
moral component, that incorporates social standards about what represents right and
wrong." (Wieten, 2004:481).

In addition to these three structures, Freud differentiated between life and death instincts.
The life instinct (referred to as Eros after the Greek god of love) involves the expenditure
of libidinal energy to place the individual in a state of minimal tension by satisfying
needs such as hunger and sex, the death instinct (referred to as Thanatos after the Greek
god of death) is one's innate desire to return to the inorganic state in order to 'release'
ourselves from the continual struggles of satisfying our biological needs (Hergenhahn,

4.1.2. The Narrator (The Ego)

The narrator begins telling the story as a victim of insomnia, the reasons that have lead to
his inability to rest is not initially addressed but, in retrospect, it is clear that his
monotonous and consumer driven life is a factor. As previously discussed, sleep allows
the id to 'release' compounding biological urges through the manifestation of dreams with
both a manifest and latent meanings. Hence the narrator is, at this moment, unable to
dispel the id's pleasure seeking impulses. This could be seen as the narrator's
subconscious feeling that his instinctual drives, produced by his id, are compounding at
such a rate, due to his increasingly consumer lifestyle, that to commit to sleep would be
to expose his fragile consciousness to a latent content that could not be substantially
symbolized in a manifested form without conscious acknowledgement. The result is a
protagonist that is essentially in conscious state of illusion as a result of his denial to
engage in unconscious release.

It is the role of the ego to mediate the instinctual drives of the id with the acceptable
social norms of the world. Hence, when the narrator, as the ego, is no longer able to find
a compromise between the demands of the id and the superego, he chooses the world in
which he has become to identify with, the superego, rather than the unconscious impulses
that are unable to take a tangible form and become an object of superficial desire to that
which he has come accustomed with. Subsequently the narrator is not able to suppress the
id and it takes on the form of a 'separate' entity that is Tyler Durdend.

Interestingly, the viewer is introduced to Tyler through a series of subliminal flashes as he
appears in four occasions prior to narrator encounter with Tyler on the plane. Tyler first
appears at his office as he describes his felt sense of distance between himself and reality;
at the hospital when the doctor fails to acknowledge his suffering; in his first group
therapy session; and lastly when Marla is walking away from him after a group therapy
meeting. This reminds the viewer, and the narrator, that one cannot simply repress urges
to such an extent that they are no longer an influence. Eventually the id has to take
extreme measures and takes the form of a tangible entity in Tyler.

4.1.2. Tyler Durend (The Id)

In accordance with psychoanalytical constructs, Tyler represents instinctual urges with

the psyche. The pleasure principles of the id are manifested through Tyler's high sex
drive, his need for primal violence, he smokes and is generally obvious to the
expectations of the external world. In addition, Tyler portrays the ideal sense of self of the
narrator, and behaves in all the ways he wish he could (e.g. "I fuck like you want to fuck"
- Tyler to the narrator). Tyler plans and executes the narrator's longing to overcome the
social structures that have entrapped him (i.e. blowing up the credit card companies
headquarters), and in essence attack the superego. This duality present in the narrator
mind represents the conflict between what is wanted and what is needed.

Tyler initially presents himself to the narrator in a companion and friend in order to get
him to progressively side with his views, and by the time the narrator realizes the extreme
nature of his own impulses Tyler's plan has already begun. This results in the narrator
feeling that his id has served its purpose and is therefore no longer required in his
conscious reality, this is symbolized as the narrator putting a gun to his head and pulling
the trigger, leaving himself injured and Tyler 'dead'.

Throughout the film Tyler is secretively organizing and setting up the destruction of the
targeted buildings. Since the narrator and Tyler are from the same mind but occupy one
physical form, the narrator protects himself from the knowledge of Tyler's deeds by

completely and utterly denying the acts he is engaging in to the extent of being psychotic.
This process of denial, according to psychoanalysis, is a defense mechanism designed to
protect the conscious mind from "unpleasant emotions such as guilt and anxiety" (Weiten,
2004:483). Another defense mechanism that the narrator goes through is that of
identification with Tyler's seemingly cathartic ideologies, similarly the viewer also
identifies with Tyler as a means of "bolstering self-esteem by forming an imaginary or
real alliance with some group or person" (Weiten, 2004:483).

4.1.3. Post-modern society (the Superego)

According to Freud (in Price, 2000), civilization is a paradigmatic concept that is both
created by and controls the ego, without civilization there would be no need for the ego
and without the ego's need for socialization (as a result of Lacan's mirror stage)
civilization would not have existed. In this vein the superego takes a more literal form in
the film in being the actual world of the story. The spectator is able to empathize with the
events portrayed on screen because the world depicted is so closely resembled today's
circumstances and its resultant ideologies. The narrator is frustrated with his world
because he has lost his sense of self in a world that promotes consumerism and alienation
through capitalistic structures and contemporary liberalisms. It is therefore Tyler's duty to
restore inherent understandings of the world through the destruction of the current ones.
This conflict Tyler has with the world (superego) is best illustrate in his day jobs, Tyler
splices sex organs into mainstream cinema as a means of displaying his sexual presents in
an attempt to regain the masculinity that society has deprived him of. This discontent
with reality is further emphasized as Tyler creates a patriarchal orientated club with
animalistic instincts of fighting that encourages the realization of the uselessness of
material items. In summary, the superego is the post-modern society in which the viewer
lives in, the narrator is suffocated by, and that Tyler is at war with.

4.1.4. Life over Death

Another interesting point to make is the manifestation of the Eros and Thanatos in Fight

Club. One of the process by which the latent content is transformed into the manifest of
dreams is through condensation, this is when two or more latent thoughts are combined to
make up one manifest dream image or situation (Wilson, 2001). It is through this that we
can identify Tyler as not only the 'id' component of personality but also as Eros or life
instinct. The Eros is aimed at releasing libidinal energy in order to minimize tension, this
is exact Tyler's function in that he seeks to resolve all of the narrator's unsatisfied urges
(e.g. Tyler's rampant sex with Marla). Tyler acts as a means to bring the raw essence back
to the of life of the narrator that has otherwise been suppressed and packaged by society.

It is, however, the purpose of Marla that is also a result of latent condensation. Although
her character does not initially appear to hold much weight other than the ultimate love
interest, this is only due to the domination of her oppositional construct. Marla forms the
Thanatos (or death instinct). The Thanatos is in constant struggle with the Eros as it seeks
to return to an inorganic state from which we came in order to cease the earthly struggle
for gratifications. This urge to destroy is evident in Marla’s behavior: she is somehow
able to avoid speeding cars as she carelessly walks through the street; she takes a
excessive amount of pills that should have medically killed her; and she to attends group
meetings for those who are close to death in order to satisfy her own longing for it. In the
group therapies, the narrator becomes angry and is suddenly not able to sleep again when
Marla shows up at all of the same therapy sessions, this is the narrator's way of becoming
aware that he is not willing to admit defeat of life by embracing his Thanatos.

At one point in Fight Club the narrator has to choose who he calls for assistance because
his apartment has been sabotaged, he choose Tyler. As a result he is exposed to the
constraint less life that is at the core of all living things, but on a subconscious level the
narrator realizes that the Eros is part of a duality of coexistence, unable to involve Marla
himself he 'gets' Tyler to save her from her suicidal tendencies. This parody of the
symbolic life 'saving' death' also represents transcendental meaning that is only evident in
the latter stages of the film. As the film comes to a climax the mental constructs of the
narrator's mind slip away back into the realm of the unconscious. The Eros/id is
overcome/controlled as the ego (narrator) finds new strength in controlling it when Tyler

threatens the existence of Marla (or object of desire and require Thanatos), and as the
dominating Eros is subdued so does the symbolic manifestation of Marla being the
Thanatos because they are binary opposites that are in conflict but require each other on
order to exists separately. Therefore, all that is left is Marla as a love interest that exists in
the narrator's reality and because his issues have been resolved (through Tyler's deeds and
his own conviction in the final scenes).\

4.1.5. Voyeurism, Sado-Masochism and Fetishism

Fourie (2002:232) notes that another reason for the enjoyment of film is that of
voyeurism, fetishisms and the resultant implications of sado-masochism. Scopophila (the
desire to see) is not only a functional part of the viewer’s enjoyment but it produces
identification with the satisfaction that comes with voyeurism. In the climax of Fight
Club Tyler explains to the narrator what was happening as he was deluding himself of his
own dualism ("sometimes you watch me fight, and sometimes I would watch you fight" -
Tyler) that is satisfying the narrator's/viewers own personal need of viewing for pleasure,
this is again overtly represented when the narrator tries to secretively watch Tyler having
sex with Marla. During the actual fight nights sado-masochistic tendencies of the narrator
(and viewer) are shown as he gains satisfaction through watching pain being inflicted and
receiving it himself, but because the ego (narrator) cannot consciously acknowledge his
sado-masochistic gratifications, he reduces the anxiety by using Tyler as the one who is to
obtain pleasure and not him directly, this process is yet another defense mechanism that
the narrator engages in, that of "attributing one's own thoughts, feelings, or motivations to
another" (Weiten, 2004:483), otherwise know as projection.

The issue of fetishism is a complex phenomenon and can be illustrated through the post-
intercourse interactions between Marla and the narrator. Firstly fetishism is described and
defined by Fourie as follows:

"Anxiety is created due to the child's becoming conscious of sexual differences and the
accompanying awareness that the mother does not process a phallus. To ward off this
anxiety and the threat that it represents (possible castration by the father), the child rejects
the existence of the sexual difference and so with it the mother's 'defect' with another
object, one that both fills the gap created by that loss and denies that anything is missing -

but which, by its very present, acknowledges this absence." (Fourie, 2002:233)

Metz (in Fourie, 2002:233) indicates that a similar process occurs in the object/subject
relationships of spectatorship, this can also be seen in the narrator's dismissive attitudes
towards Marla in his house on Paper Street. According to Freud, after successfully going
through the Oedipal phases of psychosexual development, the rest of the boys life is
spent trying to substitute the sexual satisfaction he received through his mother by
finding a suitable partner (Freud, 1932, in Shaffer, 2002). In the sequences when Tyler is
having sex with Marla, the narrator is seen as excluded from this sexual act, and is
essential place in a child-like position, while Tyler and Marla are his 'parents'. This
feeling of being a child is even verbalized by the narrator who says "I'm six years old
again passes messages between parents" (when Tyler tells him to "get rid of her
[Marla]"). This relates to narrator's internal Oedipal struggle (another being the narrator's
response when Tyler asks him who would he fight if he could, his response "I'd fight my
dad") in that he wants to have sex with his mother (Marla) but only on a subconscious
level (as Tyler) and because he is not ready to bring this repressed feeling to a conscious
level in order to be dealt with and given his apparent closeness to Marla (he is in fact
sleeping with her), he forms a cleaning fetish with his toothbrush that he uses to resolve
the conflict describe above in Fourie's definition. The sexual gratification he gains for this
phallic transference is that he uses his toothbrush to brush his teeth, and given Tyler's/(his
id's) smoking habit, he is using the oral simulation as means of gratification knowing, the
satisfaction is achieved orally as a result of a incompletion of his oral stage of Freud's
psychosexual development.


Since Freud's initial claims of Psychonoanalysis there have been many legitimate claims
made against its methodologies and its practicality in general. One of the most unresolved
criticisms of psychoanalysis is that it lacks falsifiablilty, "Freudian theory could account
for anything a person did, nothing that a person could do would be contrary to what the

theory predicted" (Hergenhahn, 2005:500). Another is that there is a seemingly
overemphasis on sex, many other psychological disciplines (such as cognitive,
behaviorist and factionist’s theories) have produced personality theories which have
yielded non-sexual conclusion based on empirical evidence rather than the unscientific
methods of collection data that psychoanalysis entails (Hergenhahn, 2005:499). Thirdly,
in the issues of scopophila, Prince (1996:77) states that psychoanalytical film theory
"fails to model a sophisticated perceptual process" as, once again, other disciplines have
formulated compelling evidence of viewership that is not only based on empirical data
but involves systematic procedures that allow for the validity and reliability of the
research to be acknowledges and questioned. Psychoanalysis as a means of describing the
phenomena that is film, does fall short when paired with many of the scientific standards
in theorizing of scientific institutions of yesterday and still today, however, it has
contributed towards the expansion of the psychological domain as a whole and in doing
so it has allowed for creative investigation into a realm of its own discovery, that of the
unconscious and its effect on human behavior. As far as its contribution towards
contemporary film theory.


Contemporary film theory has filled the void in previous, more ontologically based,
methods of cinema critique and analysis. Through examining film reception through a
structuralist perspective we are able to theorize, although arguable to a limit degree, about
the unconscious processes that guide, influence, and affect the spectator's experience of
film. Psychoanalytical film theory offers the theorists a set of logically and well explored
theories that provided genuine insight into the viewer's experience, it's a unique tangently
film paradigm that explores a range of perceptual phenomena that has had a significant
influence on feminist film theory, early structuralist thinking and its application in this
post-modern age is a testament to its flexibility and completeness.

Fincher's (1998) adaptation of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club illustrates the practicality of
psychoanalysis and it accompanying assumptions. Through the premises that the filmatic

experience resembles that of a dream (Metz in Fourie, 2002:229), the presence of
unconscious signifiers in the movie as a visual text becomes apparent. The unconscious
mind is creatively expressed through the Narrator, Tyler, Marla, the obstacles they are
presented with as well as through the world in which they engage in, and in addition to
being simple an expression, the identification of such underlying psychological processes
reinforces the 'spectatorship' construct in pscyhoanalylitical 'apparatus' theory. This cyclic
reinforcement is grounds for strong criticism, however psychoanalysis is part of a greater
line of thinking that, through comparison, argues that it has evolved into a post-modern
paradigm that is still being subjected to 'outdated' critical perspectives.


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