Show Less
Restricted access

The Mind Screen

Identification Desire and Its Cinematic Arena

Georg Schmid

For well over a century cinema has exerted enormous influence, yet many questions regarding its fascination remain unanswered. Films work so well because the viewers tend to unconsciously identify with the actors/actresses. The desire to become another, substituting identity by identification, can be traced to the illusion that the filmic heroes/heroines are immortal – identifying with them raises the possibility of gaining «deathlessness.» Viewers can, without real life risks, experiment with the existential drafts presented; the power of imagination is mobilized. Based on a multidisciplinary approach (semiotics, psychoanalysis, cultural anthropology, plus a healthy dose of film history), this book presents prolegomena of a philosophy of cinema.
Show Summary Details
Restricted access

22 Multiple Identifications


Based on what has been said up to now it can be stated with quite some justification that identification comes about in many different ways, occasioned by distinguishable and dissimilar factors. It can occur to persons prepared (and expectant) to make use of the respective offers but it can also creep up on unsuspecting minds. While the norm seems to be that one identifies with just one personage in a movie–but I have referred a short while ago to a personal experience: that I identified with the two leads in Copycat, female ones, come to that–, empirical leads make us assume that a kind of “collective identification” with a whole group of people is by no means atypical. Identification with a “group” (maybe not very common) will be experienced in a comparable way to identification with an individual, be it fictional or real, and different persons will show similar emotional patterns as far as profundity and intensity of the respective experience are concerned.

Films with a clear political content and with manifest political agendas probably best serve as examples. I suspect that films such as Ådalen 31 or La battaglia di Algeri or Z go a long way to illustrate that point. The last-mentioned movie by Costa-Gavras may seem a strange bedfellow in this fragmentary listing. Most people, I guess, would argue that the strong personality of Yves Montand (playing the heroic professor: nearly an exaggeration of the ideal leader) dominates and therefore “appropriates” all...

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.

Do you have any questions? Contact us.

Or login to access all content.