Friday, March 15, 2019

Film and Psyche 12: The Look (a symposium)

City Lights. Charles Chaplin and Virginia Cherrill. "Yes, I can see now". The flower girl has never seen the tramp before, but she recognizes the touch of his hand.

Film and Psyche Symposium 12: The Look
15.–16.3.2019 at Kino Regina (Central Library Oodi, Töölönlahdenkatu 4, Helsinki)
Organized by: Suomen Psykoanalyyttinen Yhdistys, Helsingin Psykoterapiaseura and Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen instituutti (KAVI)

Un chien andalou. Luis Buñuel and Simone Mareuil. Music: "Liebestod" by Wagner "Tango Argentino" and "Recuerdos" by the Vicente Alvarez & Carlos Otero et son orchestre.

FRIDAY 15.3.2019
8.50  Introduction
9.00  Luis Buñuel & Salvador Dalí: Andalusialainen koira (Un chien andalou, 1928), 22 min
9.25  Mikael Enckell: "Reportages from the repository of repressed temptations" read by Antti Alanen / mod. Harri Stenberg
10.00  Lecture: Timo Kaitaro

10.30  Charles Chaplin: Kaupungin valot (City Lights, US 1931), 87 min
12.00  Lunch break
13.30  Lecture: Stig Hägglund / mod. Vesa Manninen

Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography. The director Bonnie Sherr Klein, the performer Lindalee Tracey, the photographer Suze Randall.

14.30  Bonnie Sherr Klein: Tuote: nainen (Not a Love Story: A Film About Pornography, CA 1981), 69 min
15.40  Coffee break
16.10  Lecture: Hannu Säävälä / mod. Ilpo Lahti – ends 17.10
17.30  Evening rendez-vous at Restaurant Vaakuna, Kaarre Hall (Kaivokatu 3)
    AA: Produced for the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) by its experienced producer and director Bonnie Sherr Klein, Not a Love Story, is her most famous film and one of the best-know NFB productions. It started from inquisitive questions by the director's ten-year old daughter Naomi Klein who appears in the beginning. The result was a personal survey into an industry that was huge already at the time.
    A major character is Lindalee Tracey (1957-2006), introduced as stripper "Fonda Peters", offering explicit performances at sex clubs. During the movie she becomes a partner in investigative journalism to the director. Her life changed during the making of the movie.
    A memorable recital is given by Margaret Atwood of her poem "A Women's Issue" (1987). Also featured is Kate Millett, author of Sexual Politics (1970), leader of the women's movement. Plus Susan Griffin, author of Woman and Nature (1978) and Pornography and Silence: Culture's Revenge Against Nature (1981).
    Also featured is Suze Randall, fashion model, photographer for Page 3 of The Sun, Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, pioneering female porn film director, mother of Holly Randall.
    I saw this movie for the first time. It now appears as a document of a more innocent time. An avalanche was going on. Since 20 years it has become an ever-growing deluge.
    In the discussion I made the remark that the birth rate has been falling in our country for several years. Also according to serious research people are having less sex. Might there be a connection?

Vertigo. The opening credit sequence by Saul Bass. computer graphics of the Lissajous curves by John Whitney, Sr.

SATURDAY 16.3.2019
9.00  Alfred Hitchcock: Vertigo (1958), 128 min
11.10  Coffee break
11.40  Lecture: Susanna Välimäki, musicologist / mod. Antti Alanen
12.10  Lecture: Anneli Larmo, psychoanalyst
12.40  Lecture: Juhani Pallasmaa, architect
13.15  Lunch break
    AA: Having seen last week Arthur Franck's The Hypnotist (2018) I was struck by the fact that Vertigo starts with something like an act of hypnotism: the spiral movement of the opening credit sequence to the music of Bernard Herrmann's hypnotic vertigo theme (the ascending steps and the dizzying downfall). We are being hypnotized into a dream mode to receive a strange tale which makes no sense in rational terms.
    After watching Vertigo we heard three different approaches to the mystery film. Vertigo was elected as Number One in Sight & Sound's most recent Top Ten poll, yet 80% of the participants did not mention it, and many film connoisseurs do not rate it highly. Even many of those who love it find it hard to explain why. Including me until recently.
    To fuel the general discussion I listed six more approaches. Before Vertigo Éric Rohmer and Claude Chabrol had just published the first serious study of Alfred Hitchcock in which they presented (1) a GEOMETRICAL approach, Hitchcock as a great inventor of forms particularly fascinated by the straight line and the circle - in Vertigo Hitchcock answered them by focusing on the spiral, the union of the line and the circle. Rohmer and Chabrol also paid attention to (2) a RELIGIOUS approach, Hitchcock's Catholic faith. Hitchcock himself was reticent about his faith, but Rohmer, Chabrol, and Truffaut seem to have been on the right track, and the approach is also relevant in Vertigo.
    In Finland, two monographs on Vertigo have been published. Peter von Bagh in 1968 published his master's thesis on the film, studying among other things (3) the EDGAR ALLAN POE affinity. In his short stories such as "The Fall of the House of Usher" (with a female protagonist called Madeline), "Ligeia", "Morella" and "The Oval Portrait" Poe's themes included a morbid obsession with a dead beloved and an artist solely devoted to the image while the living model dies. Heikki Nyman has published a separate volume, Vertigo: Loving the Image, of his magnum opus The Hitchcock Touch (1992), with a (4) PHILOSOPHICAL approach. Nyman, like Gilles Deleuze and Stanley Cavell, studies a film director as a thinker. He examines Hitchcock's films as studies in perception. Hitchcock's films are always about the look - also in the philosophically relevant sense of seeing.
    Robin Wood published two major assessments of Vertigo. In 1989 in Hitchcock's Films Revisited he presented (5) a FEMINIST reading of Vertigo: a tale of patriarchy and violent oppression of women relevant to the ideas of Kate Millett in Sexual Politics. But in 1965, in his original chapter on Vertigo, his focus had been (6) on DEATH DRIVE. The sensation of vertigo is the simultaneous powerful feeling of the life force and the death drive as Scottie Ferguson is hanging from the rooftop gutter. The concurrent awareness of Eros and Thanatos.
    What then is Madeleine? She is death incarnate, like the grim reaper in Ingmar Bergman's The Seventh Seal or the ghost woman in Kenji Mizoguchi's Ugetsu monogatari. The psychoanalyst Anneli Larmo commented also that she is the third woman, represented by the third casket, as analyzed by Sigmund Freud in "Das Motiv der Kästchenwahl" (1913): the Goddess of Death, relevant to the three Moirai, Parcae, or Norns. The Law of Nature is mythically present since birth, since the life-giving mother to the silent and tender womb of Mother Earth. Robin Wood pointed out that in Scottie's nightmare the person falling to death is not Madeleine but Scottie himself.

Matka minuksi / Becoming Me. Elli.

14.45  Mina Laamo: Matka minuksi / Becoming Me (2014) 75 min
16.00  Lecture: Mina Laamo 40 min / mod. Anna Lilja

16.40  Alan Schneider: Film by Samuel Beckett (1965, starring Buster Keaton) 20 min
17.00  Lecture: Christel Airas / mod. Kristiina Kuula – ends at 17.45

The planning team: the psychoanalysts Johanna Eväsoja, Kristiina Kuula, Ilpo Lahti, Anna Lilja, Vesa Manninen and Harri Stenberg plus Antti Alanen (KAVI).

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