Psychoanalysis and the Arts

Last Tango in Paris – A Film Analysis with Gerald Izenberg, PhD

last_tango_in_paris_xlgCommentary on the movie by Gerald Izenberg, PhD.  Originally produced for the Celluloid Couch series of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute.

A man and a woman — complete strangers– meet and try to encounter one another without all the accumulated baggage of their past identities.  The man refuses to exchange names, doesn’t want to know anything about the woman or reveal anything about himself.   “We’re going to forget everything we knew,” he says to her, “all the people, all that we do, wherever we live.  They will try for a new pure beginning. They will discover one another not with their minds, which are the repositories of bad thoughts and memories, but with their bodies, supposedly their most intimate, most fundamental, most real selves.  Sexuality, the purely physical (so they hope) is the natural, the permanent, the good part of the self – more solid and more real than the mere accidents of their unhappy personal histories.

This attempt at pure union of course proves impossible.

Gerald N. Izenberg, PhD, is a retired member of the Faculty of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute and former Professor of History at Washington University.  He is also the author of several books He is the author of several books, including  The Existentialist Critique of Freud: The Crisis of Autonomy,reissued in 2015 as part of the Princeton Legacy Library, published by Princeton University Press.