Mainstream body-character breach films and subjectivization

Sandra Meiri, Odeya Kohen-Raz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The authors analyze a unique cinematic corpus – ‘body-character breach films’ (one character, initially played by a certain actor, occupies the body of another character) – demonstrating Lacan's notion of traversing the fantasy, both on the level of the films’ diegesis and that of spectatorship. Breaching the alliance between actors and their characters perturbs the viewer's fantasy of wholeness enabled by this very alliance. Consequently, a change in subject/spectatorial position in relation to the lack in the Other is induced, enhanced through the visualization of various scenarios of unconscious fantasies (mostly incest). These are meant to unsettle the spectator into an awareness of how a conscious fantasy conceals another unconscious fundamental fantasy, thereby encouraging a change in spectatorial position (from ‘perverse’/fetishistic to ‘neurotic’). Conflating this change with Lacan's notion of traversing the fantasy, the authors contend that mainstream cinema has the capacity to induce a process of subjectivization (assuming responsibility for one's own desire). This process is contingent on four conditions: identification with the protagonist's fantasy to conceal the lack in the Other; dissolution of this fantasy, initiated by the body-character breach; rhetorical strategies (the coding of unconscious scenarios cinematically); and an ethical dimension (encouraging the subject/spectator to follow her/his desire).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-217
Number of pages17
JournalInternational Journal of Psychoanalysis
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2016 Institute of Psychoanalysis


  • body-character breach
  • casting
  • conscious/unconscious
  • desire
  • fantasy
  • mainstream/counter cinema
  • spectatorship
  • subjectivization


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