Friday, 7 June 2013

Once Upon a Time: A Lacanian Analysis of Clockwork Orange

This blog is the second in a series of film studies blogs that I wrote during my own Cultural Studies BA at the University of Leeds. I have loaded them here as a teaching aid.

Please click here to see the other blogs:
Framing the Russian Ark
Apocalypse Now: The Vietnam War on Perception

This essay offers a Lacanian analysis of Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of Anthony Burgess' Clockwork Orange. Using Jacques Lacan's theory on the symbolic order - in particular his themes of lack, the unconscious, the phallus, the signifier/signified and speech - I use a scene in the film to explicate his theory of sexual difference. The essay is written as a story which utilises the style of a fairy tale in order to draw attention to the different voices in the film, to allude to the original myth of Oedipus and to make reference to the forgotten episode of our own enculturation via the Oedipal trajectory.

Alex knows the cat lady doesn’t have the phallus. Women just feature in his life as objects to be done to. But, Alex is under the misapprehension that he does have the phallus. He doesn’t realise that no-one has the phallus. He believes the phallus represents potency, it signifies the life-force. He thinks he is one with his penis, and that the penis-sculpture he holds to his groin is this unity writ large. He actually believes he is the phallus. However, he does not realise that he is not seamless with the phallus: not only does the phallus exist in a space he cannot gain entry to, but his body is a fragmented one, he is a divided self, due to his prior misidentification at the mirror stage.

Click here for a full downloadable pdf of the essay: Once Upon a Time

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