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In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aestheticby Gaylyn Studlar
Synopses & Reviews
In a major revision of feminist-psychoanalytic theories of film pleasure and sexual difference, Studlar's close textual analysis of the six Paramount films directed by Josef von Sternberg and starring Marlene Dietrich probes the source of their visual and psychological complexity. Borrowing from Gilles Deleuze's psychoanalytic-literary approach, Studlar shows how masochism extends beyond the clinical realm, into the arena of artistic form, language, and production of pleasure. The author's examination of the von Sternberg/Dietrich collaborations shows how these films, with the mother figure embodied in the alluring yet androgynous Dietrich, offer a key for understanding film's "masochistic aesthetic." Studlar argues that masochism's broader significance to film study lies in the similarities between the structures of perversion and those of the cinematic apparatus, as a dream screen reviving archaic visual pleasures for both male and female spectators.
Book News Annotation:
Originally published by University of Illinois Press in 1988. Reprinted here unaugmented.
Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In the Realm of Pleasure: Von Sternberg, Dietrich, and the Masochistic Aesthetic offers a radical countertheory to Freudian and Lacanian approaches to film and the issue of sexual difference.
Includes bibliographical references (p. -241) and index.
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