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On the Real Limits of Self‐consciousness: Gazing Back at the Subversive Subject with Marco Bellocchio

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This article looks at Marco Bellocchio's 2002 film My Mother's Smile to re‐assess the central feature of Bellocchio's cinema, i.e. its attempt to delineate a subjective strategy of subversion against a social order perceived as fundamentally repressive. In line with the director's previous output, the film takes the Catholic Church and the family as its explicit polemical targets, endeavouring to unmask the nefarious ideological pressure they exercise on the ordinary individual in today's Italian society. However, my reading draws on Lacanian psychoanalytic theory to try and locate the disavowed (unconscious) kernel of Bellocchio's narrative. Deploying Lacan's controversial musings on ‘the gaze', ‘desire' and ‘femininity', I suggest that the true stance of rebellion voiced by the film's protagonist hinges on his recognition that the inconsistency of the ideological predicament he consciously struggles against paradoxically coincides with the traumatic inconsistency at the heart of his own attitude of defiance.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2005

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