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Title: Unmaking the remake : Lacanian psychoanalysis, Deleuzian logic, and the problem of repetition in Hollywood cinema
Author: Vardell, Dan
ISNI:       0000 0004 2693 0222
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2010
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Repetition is inherent to cinema. From the complex interweaving of genre cycles and Hollywood stars to the elementary mechanism of film projection (twenty-four times per second): cinema is repetition. It is perhaps little wonder then that psychoanalysis is often thought of as one of the discourses with which to write about film in the 20th century. However, this thesis problematises both cinematic repetition and psychoanalytic film theory, stressing that each is haunted by a spectre: the remake, and the film-philosophy of Gilles Deleuze, respectively. Despite its critical opprobrium, I explore the remake not only as a viable object of cinematic scholarship, but one necessary in moving past the impasse of film studies identified by Timothy Corrigan (1991) as ‘historical hysteria’. My research turns to Deleuzian film theory as a counterpart, rather than replacement, of the predominant Lacanian model. This is, however, neither a defence of the remake nor of psychoanalysis, but, rather, an attempt to submit both to a radical reassessment that, as Lacan says, aims at giving you a ‘kick up the arse’ (1998:49). Eschewing the ‘example’ as a remnant of film theory’s current collapse in form, I suggest two ‘case studies’ for consideration, augmented by a cache of film references: (1) Gus Van Sant’s shot-for-shot remake (1998) of Alfred Hitchcock’s original Psycho (1960) as a ‘symptom’ of Hollywood’s self-cannibalisation; and (2) George Sluizer’s The Vanishing (1993), a Hollywood ‘auto-remake’ of his own Dutch original, Spoorloos (1988), as a ‘fetish’ of Hollywood’s desire in the European ‘Other’. Rather than expose Deleuze to a Lacanian framework I subject the one to a reading of the other in a möbius relation, turning them inside-out, so to speak. Mediating these two thinkers is Slavoj Žižek, a cultural theorist whose own ‘filmosophy’ is revealed from amongst his often frenetic writings. In so doing, I expose a dark underside to Hollywood repetition, one which provides some new tools for understanding the popularity of cinema’s most critically neglected discourse.
Supervisor: Williams, Linda Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology ; PN1993 Motion Pictures