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The Doppelgänger

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Edited By Deborah Ascher Barnstone

The Doppelgänger – the double, twin, mirror image or alter ego of someone else – is an ancient and universal theme that can be traced at least as far back as Greek and Roman mythology, but is particularly associated with two areas of study: psychology, and German literature and culture since the Romantic movement. Although German language literature has been a nexus for writing on the Doppelgänger, there is a paucity of scholarly work treating a broader selection of cultural products from the German-speaking world. The essays in this volume explore the phenomenon of the double in multiple aspects of German visual culture, from traditional art forms like painting and classical ballet to more contemporary ones like film, photography and material culture, and even puppet theatre. New ways of understanding the Doppelgänger emerge from analyses of various media and time periods, such as the theme of the double in a series of portraits by Egon Schiele, the doubling of silk by rayon in Weimar Germany and its implications for class distinctions in Germany, and the use of the x-ray as a form of double in Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain and Christoph Schlingensief’s performance art.
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Isa Murdock-Hinrichs - 6 The Remake as Double: Space, Media, and the Irrational in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games

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ISA MURDOCK-HINRICHS

6 The Remake as Double: Space, Media, and the Irrational in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games

Michael Haneke’s 2007 remake of his 1998 film Funny Games does more than double the original, it uses multiple types of doubling to explore the curious quality of film so aptly remarked by Walter Benjamin as a present absence. While the cinematic object, the images on the screen, suggests a presence of actors and actresses, of a here and now, it is also a direct reference to an absence. The fact that these particular actors and actresses are no longer performing the action on the screen in the here and now but that the action has been displaced into a there and then underscores the simultaneous condition of absence and presence in film.1 The figure of the double, and the cinematic remaking as a form of doubling, similarly foreground a spatio-temporal displacement as they focus on the play between signifier and signified. A remake’s evocative potential is tied to the “original” in the way that a signifier functions in relation to a signified. While a remake always invokes the original, especially in films like Gus Van Sant’s 1998 shot-by-shot remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film Psycho, the process of remaking as a form of mimesis constantly emphasizes an absence, a lack.

Similarly, Sigmund Freud’s analysis of the figure of the double in his essay “The Uncanny” points to a perceived lack as characteristic of...

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