Movies and the Lacanian Real?

Want to list some movies which I believe offer a glimpse of/into the Lacanian ‘real’. These are works which inevitably leave one wondering what happened, leave a taste of not merely the unknowable but also the un-representable. We know ‘something’ cause the pivoting point in the plot or was behind or underneath the storyline somehow, but we cannot put our finger to it. There is the temptation to explain away these unusual factors via conventional explanations (e.g. love, obsession, jealousy, insanity, etc.) but it’s pertinent that we resist this urge.

We must accept that something happened within the system of the world but was not reducible to its conditions, predicates, framework, etc. Here’s my (far from exhaustive) list :

  • Hurt Locker (Jeremy Renner) — why did James want return to Iraq, back to the danger?
  • Stone (Robert de Niro, Edward Norton) — what caused the ‘shift’ in Stone’s behaviour?
  • Chocolat (Juliette Binoche, Johnny Depp) — we all know it wasn’t about ‘chocolate’ or the lady selling the chocolate, it was something else…what?
  • Lost in Translation (Bill Murray, Scarlett Johannsen) — what was ‘happening’ between the two main characters
Scene from ‘The Hurt Locker’ — why did Sgt James want to go back to the danger and violence of Iraq?
  • Matrix: Reloaded (Keanu Reeves) — if Neo was simply the next in a long line of would-be ‘messiahs’ for the human race, and all his actions have been scripted in advance, what did he do which made it all different?
  • The Reader (Kate Winslet) — why did Hannah Schmitz not defend herself properly at the trial? Why did she alone take the rap for her other ex-colleagues?
  • The Dark Knight (Christian Bale, Heath Ledger) — a little over-commercialized but I’ll allow it (smile), the key question is: what were the Joker’s ultimate motivations? Surely not greed? A love of anarchy? But why would anyone love that?
  • No Country for Old Men (Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin) — what the heck happened in the end? And how does it relate to the whole story?
  • Inception (Leonardo di Caprio) — same, why did Nolan end the movie the way he did?
  • Kungfu Panda (Jack Black et al) — how did Panda defeat Tai Lung? (yes there’s a “simple” answer but the very fact that we have to work it out may suggest something deeper?)
  • Eyes Wide Shut (Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman) — was there a ‘point’ at all?

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