(out of series) Edipo Re (Lindley 321, Film Authors)

Appropriately, in Edipo Re, Pasolini most rigorously works out the process of perceptual subject formation, though in a less Freudian manner than one might expect. Oedipus becomes himself through a process of subjectification that oscillates between perception and its refusal. He retains and represses memories of the exile of his infancy and they lead him to not want to perceive after he visits Delphi as a young man. As a baby in the film’s modern space, he puts his hand over his face when his father looks at him sternly after declaiming in voice over that the child will steal Jocasta’s love. After the oracle tells Oedipus the story of his past and future, Franco Citti repeats this gesture and, once he hits the trail, he shields his eyes while spinning around at crossroad in order to lose himself enough to not be able to get back to  Corinth. Unlike Freud’s Oedipus-the-self-analysts, this innocent doesn’t want to know or see. Once he has accomplished his fate, he no longer wants to hear either, saying that he should have severed his ears as well as gouged his eyes out so as to seal himself in his body. The gesture of manually blindfolding himself doesn’t just prefigure the moment when he blinds himself, each example of it is a stage in his becoming himself. When, as king of Thebes, Oedipus searches for the witness to Laius’s murder, the reluctance of those in know to speak and his demand that he hear what they have to say articulates the process on the auditory level. In the film, both Oedipus’s subjectification entails both modes of direct cinematic perception in a non-figurative way: sound and vision make up the character’s virtual becoming.

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