Desiring desire in Visconti's Ossessione

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A considerable amount of critical literature on Luchino Visconti's film Ossessione [Obsession] questions whether there is a “gay” storyline that subtends its narrative. This paper shifts the emphasis to the film's representation of desire, which, it argues, is structured not through the pursuit of an object but a desire for desire itself. It assesses how the filmic representation of desiring desire counters and troubles a trenchant form of clerico-fascist normalization, using insights from queer theory and sexuality studies to shed light on the formation of such desire. The essay tracks the nomadic trajectories of the protagonists, and ultimately claims that its melodramatic narrative does not indulge its viewers with a fulfilled fantasy of liberatory revolt, but offers, rather, a capillary model of resistance that emerges through its anomalous form of immanent desire.
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