Looking for the Secret: Death and Desire in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige

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Abstract

Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article considers writer/director Christopher Nolan’s treatment of trauma in the context of The Prestige (2006) by analysing the film’s narrative structure and thematic content. I argue that the film communicates trauma through a process of thematic, technical and visual repetition that is linked to the subject of the unconscious that Jacques Lacan (1977) defines as being a ‘lack’ or gap that emerges in the field of the Other (XI, 211). I also claim that the film exhibits the marks of a traumatic experience which manifest themselves in the spectator’s apparent compulsion to repeat and replay the trauma, and thus the film in an attempt to master the subject.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPsyArt: An Online Journal for the Psychological Study of the Arts
Publication statusPublished - 2014

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Prestige
Christopher Nolan
Trauma
Thematic
Jacques Lacan
Repeats
Narrative Structure
Psychoanalysis
Spectator
Writer

Cite this

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title = "Looking for the Secret: Death and Desire in Christopher Nolan's The Prestige",
abstract = "Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article considers writer/director Christopher Nolan’s treatment of trauma in the context of The Prestige (2006) by analysing the film’s narrative structure and thematic content. I argue that the film communicates trauma through a process of thematic, technical and visual repetition that is linked to the subject of the unconscious that Jacques Lacan (1977) defines as being a ‘lack’ or gap that emerges in the field of the Other (XI, 211). I also claim that the film exhibits the marks of a traumatic experience which manifest themselves in the spectator’s apparent compulsion to repeat and replay the trauma, and thus the film in an attempt to master the subject.",
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AB - Drawing on Lacanian psychoanalysis, this article considers writer/director Christopher Nolan’s treatment of trauma in the context of The Prestige (2006) by analysing the film’s narrative structure and thematic content. I argue that the film communicates trauma through a process of thematic, technical and visual repetition that is linked to the subject of the unconscious that Jacques Lacan (1977) defines as being a ‘lack’ or gap that emerges in the field of the Other (XI, 211). I also claim that the film exhibits the marks of a traumatic experience which manifest themselves in the spectator’s apparent compulsion to repeat and replay the trauma, and thus the film in an attempt to master the subject.

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