“…your speaker likes to leave a movie theater.”

“The film image (including the sound) is what? A lure. I am confined with the image as if I were held in that famous duel relation which establishes the image-repertoire. The image is there, in front of me, for me: coalescent (its signified and signifier melted together), analogical, total, pregnant: it is a perfect lure: I fling myself upon it like an animal upon the scrap of ‘lifelike’ rag held out to him; and, of course, it sustains in me the mis-reading attatched to Ego and to image-repertoire. In the movie theater, however far away I am sitting, I press my nose against the screen’s mirror, against that ‘other’ image-repertoire with which I narcistically identify myself… the image captivates me, captures me: I am glued to the representation, and it is this glue which establishes naturalness (the pseudo-nature) of the filmed scene (a glue prepared with the ingredients of ‘technique’); the Real knows only distances, the Symbolic knows only masks; the image alone (the image-repertoire) is close, only the image is ‘true’ (can produce the resonance of truth).”

-Roland Barthes, “Leaving the Movie Theater”


The Sheridan Theater by Edward Hopper

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2 thoughts on ““…your speaker likes to leave a movie theater.”

  1. This reminds me of that voiceover from “The Dreamers” about sitting as close to the screen as possible, so that one receives the images/sounds first ahead of everyone else. Ah, let me just quote it:

    “I was one of the insatiables. The ones you’d always find sitting closest to the screen. Why do we sit so close? Maybe it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they’d been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, secondhand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist’s cabin. Maybe, too, the screen was really a screen. It screened us… from the world.”

    During the film festival, I made a habit of this. It wasn’t very good for my neck/back, but it certainly made some of the screenings memorable.

  2. How funny–I just finished devouring a rereading of The Dreamers, and yes, there are enough similarities to make me think that Gilbert Adair was more than a little familiar with Barthes’s essay…

    And it’s about time you commented here! :p

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