May 15, 2013 · 1997
Adrian Lyne’s 1997 remake of Lolita is a surprisingly well-made film
According to Lacan, the most important , the highway amongst some minor roads, so to speak, is the , the paternal metaphor, which is quite important in Lynch's "post-patriarchal project." The answer to Lacan's rhetorical question - "[w]hat happens when we don't have a highway ...?" (292), or, in other words, what happens when the highway is lost - is: psychosis. The foreclosure, what Freud called ,of the primordial signifier, the , is a strategy for evading castration: the subject is "castrated" by its entry into the symbolic, into language and society. Thus, the denial of this castration leads to psychosis. This rejection of the symbolic Other that results in the disappearance of the phallic function leads to the subject's distortion of its relation to the social order as well to its loss of sexual identity. As in Freud's case of Judge Schreber, Fred Madison tries to escape the threat of castration, but he experiences a "return of the repressed" in the real instead of in the symbolic, in his hallucinations (that is, in his second identity as Pete), because he does not accept the , the agency that might disturb his symbiotic relationship with Renee and/or Alice: Dick Laurent is dead! So, the "Highway" of the title is exactly this quilting point, this suture, that would be necessary for the subject to be inscribed into "reality," into a state of "normality." Once this point is lost, once this seam is undone, the subject falls prey to the real, becomes psychotic. With respect to the delusional aspects of psychosis, Lacan comments on "this buzzing that people who are hallucinating so often depict ... this continuous murmur ... is nothing other than the infinity of these minor paths" ( 294), these minor paths that have lost their central highway. What is the deep droning sound underlying most of the movie but this "continuous murmur?"
The List Thus Far | 366 Weird Movies
begins with the attempt of Vincent Towers, a millionaire who has killed his father, to kill his identical half-brother Clay Arlington in a planned car explosion and to pass him off as himself to escape prosecution. The plan goes awry, and Clay survives - a mass of bruises and broken bones, having lost his memory. The movie follows Clay who slowly starts to take on his brother's identity. Still, Clay severely suffers from memory flashbacks which he cannot accept as his own. However, the end of the film - which indeed is its starting image as well, since the movie as such is a long flashback - shows Clay, who has by now fully accepted his new identity as Vincent Towers, shooting his brother who has returned to bring his plan to a successful close. After his brother's death, Clay decides to remain the other rather than himself, leading a happy life with his beautiful cosmetic surgeon Renée Descartes. No problem so far. But, on the level of representation, the spectator is constantly held in the process of de-suturing. The movie constantly emphasizes the physical similarity of the two brothers (on the blurb on the video jacket, they are actually referred to as 'twin brothers'), which is in fact a prerequisite for the film to function in the first place. "Our physical resemblance," remarks Vincent at one point, "is striking." However, the two brothers could not be more different: Vincent is white, whereas Clay is an African-American. This perverse logic is consequently reflected in the title of the film: the movie ultimately withholds suture. , I argue, functions in quite a similar manner. In order to slowly approach this problem, I will in the following comment on certain aspects of the film which I think are most important for an . First, there is the structure of the film. After the credit titles that flicker over the screen - fittingly accompanied by David Bowie's song "I'm deranged," a track that sets the tone for what's to come - the movie begins with Fred sitting alone in front of a window, smoking, his image mirrored in the pane of glass, when suddenly a message comes in through the intercom: "Dick Laurent is dead!" () Fred does not - yet - know who this mysterious Dick Laurent is (or better: was), nor who it was who brought the message. Neither does the spectator. Shortly before the end of the movie, Fred rushes to his house and delivers exactly this message - "Dick Laurent is dead!" - into his own intercom. Whereas most reviewers have failed to take notice of this strange structure, in favor of a more straightforward telling of the tale, even the one article that mentioned it fails to acknowledge its real impact: