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The Critical Review Of Screening Trauma Film Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Film Studies
Wordcount: 1818 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Cinema and its relationship with psychology, history and memory is a wide area which can be shaped by visual media and identification of culture. Susannah Radstone( 2000) analyses the movie of Forrest Gump( Robert Zemeckis, US, 1994) with examinations and expressions that have been accompanied with screening trauma in her study. Also the theoretical and methodological tension over memory and inclusive cultural framework shapes these film analyses with further details, especially in cinepsychoanalysis and memory/ history. This review will highlight the main points as a summary with some critiques of Radstone’ s perception of critical thinkers and this academic work’ s relationship with the comprehension of visual culture and memory.As an aim, this study will try to show cinema’ s effects on shaping the human perception of history also memory’ s relationship with history in the context of psychology, especially with the movie of Forrest Gump( Robert Zemeckis, US, 1994) .


In the study of ‘ Screening Trauma: Forrest Gump, Film and Memory’ (Radstone, 2000) Radstone starts by emphasising that Forrest Gump ( Robert Zemeckis, US, 1994) , which contains the last three decades of US history as from 1964 nearly, with the associations between memory and history from the protagonist’ s unconscious perception in the context of manipulations of technology which is fed by contemporary Western culture. After that memory’ s connection with cinema adresses cinepsychoanalysis paradoxically due to the fact that memory’ s visual usage recalls traumatic events – childhood seduction or abuse ( Freud and Breuer [ 1893- 5] 1974, cited in Radstone 2000: 82) – Freud later and famously abandoned this ‘ seduction theory’ for an understanding of hysteria that connected its symptoms, rather, to unacknowledgeable fantasies of a sexual nature ( Freud [ 1905] 1977, cited in Radstone 2000: 82) . Radstone tries to emphasise the interweaving of trauma, fantasy and memory in the psychoanalytic understanding of the letter in order to answer this question: What is the relation between memories of traumatic events and physical predispositions which entails dominant fantasy scenarios in the context of the movie of Forrest Gump ?

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Other disciplines offer different accessions to memory research within cultural studies and history which are not untouched by psychoanalytic ideas ( Kuhn 1995; King 1997; Vidali 1997, cited in Radstone 2000: 85) . For example; in the work of the Birmingham Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies( 1982, cited in Radstone 2000: 84) , analyses of autobiographical memories revealed both how public history shaped identity and, conversely, how marginal memories could overturn established histories.

At this point of the Radstone’s study, these disciplines like history and cultural studies are combined with the psychoanalytic understanding of memory because Radstone says that if psychoanalytic points of view contribute memory’ s understanding, its insights will be more understandable or assimilable within history and cultural studies. In this manner, Radstone points out that the concept of ‘ Afterwardsness’ ( Laplanche, 1992, cited in Radstone 2000: 85) refers to a process of deferred revision, where ‘ experiences, impressions and memory- traces may be revised at a later date to fit in with fresh experiences or with the attainment of a new stage of development’ ( Laplanche and Pontalis 1988: 111, cited in Radstone 2000: 85). Radstone tries to search for the truth of an occurrence and the experiences of its results in the context of Afterwardness which suggests that determinations of memory’ s tropes can not reach the truth of the past but it can be only a revision of the past as reported by Radstone. Under these influences, she tries to argue the history’ s trustworthiness in the context of changeable memory, which can be shaped by past especially repressed effects of experiences, in Forrest Gump( Robert Zemeckis, US, 1994) .

Moreover, after these reviews of Forrest Gump, Radstone emphasizes that Burgoyne’ s ‘ Prosthetic Memory/ Prosthetic Nation’ forms part of a collection addressing the construction of nation in selected US contemporary history films. In the context of Forrest Gump, Burgoyne emphasizes throughout both the dissociation between Gump’ s memories and that history of violence which is ‘ in effect noted but bracketed in the film’ ( ibid: 112, cited in Radstone 2000: 96) , and Forrest’ s incapacity to understand that same history which he is, unbeknownst to himself, shaping: ‘ Only Gump’ s ignorance protects him from the scarifications of history and the resulting distortions of character that plague most of the other figures who populate the film’ ( ibid: 109, cited in Radstone 2000: 96) . Radstone argues that the film’ s effect was linked only to Forrest’ s ignorance, and that the film was therefore trading in a historical common sense, or ‘ Gump’ that might be likened to ‘ false memory’ . She tries to interrogate the movie of Forrest Gump not also with the complex inner world of human being but also with the complexities of historical agency and responsibility.


If Radstone’ s essay is analysed in a general way before the analysis of Forrest Gump; my critique will start with this question: How might the relationship between memory, history and cinema can be understood in a simple way with the association of the other areas like psychoanalysis and humanities? Because Radstone’ s explanations are so impetuous and compound. This situation creates the concept of transdisciplinarity which carries risk in order to analyse the movie. Transdisciplinarity produces ‘ travelling concept’ ( Bal , 2002,cited in Radstone 2008: 35) – concepts that may be attached very quickly to various occurrences including reviews, forms and cultures. Concepts such as trauma and memory start to be a bridge between the various disciplines in a complex way. In addition, she elaborates the thinkers’ points of view exceedingly. Does she try to analyse the movie of Forrest Gump in the context of these disciplines or does she want to explain these disciplines’ deep points to reader ?

After the general critique of the study of Radstone, in order to understand the role of Forrest Gump in US history my review will compare the thoughts of Vivian Sobchack and Robert Burgoyne in the context of Susannah Radstone’ s study. Radstone uses the study of ‘ Prosthetic Memory / National Memory: Forrest Gump’ ( Burgoyne , 1997) in order to analyse the usage of memory in movies and the effects of this usage on real history, especially with the protagonist’ s ignorance as Gump. ‘ The emergence of mass cultural technologies of memory, moreover, provides vivid experiences of the past that can shape and inform subjectivity. ‘ ( Burgoyne, 1997: 105)

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Burgoyne argues that what might be the media’ s effects on representing history through the cinema. He believes that cinema might shape the history and it might affect people’ memory like forming ‘ false memory’ ,especially with Gump’s ignorance. In this manner Radstone tries to make comparisons between the study of ‘ History Happens’ which was written by Vivian Sobchack ( 1996) and the study of ‘ Prosthetic Memory / National Memory : Forrest Gump’ ( Burgoyne, 1997) . Sobchack believes that one of the media ‘ s parts which is cinema might create the consciousness about the history through the movies like Forrest Gump with new technologies. Sobchack figures out ‘ a sense in which we believe we can go right out and ” be” in history’ ( Sobchack, 1996 : 5) . After these points of view, Radstone analyses history’ s usage in cinema might be likened to ‘ false memory’ or it might remind history to society. So that there is a paradox which comes from different interpretations. I suppose that the history’ s usage in cinema can be understood as media’ s atrocious effect or , at the same time, its a freeway to be in history even if it is represented from innocent protagonist’ s perception as Sobchack supports.

In order to analyse the movie of Forrest Gump ( Robert Zemeckis, US, 1994) in the context of Afterwardsness, phantasy- memory psychologically; firstly Radstone starts by emphasising Afterwardness, which is stated as ‘ the ’cause’ of memory’s representations of the past’ by Radstone , is ‘ the summary interpretation which reduces the psychoanalytic view of the subject’ s history to a linear determinism envisaging nothing bot the action of the past upon the present’ ( Laplanche and Pontalis 1988: 111- 12, cited in Radstone 2000: 86 ) . In this manner, i support Laplanche and Pontalis’ ideas that Afterwardsness’ s relationship with temporality, which contains repressed experiences of the event, creates the issue of losing real history.

Secondly, Radstone indicates ‘ For Freud, at least, the physical ‘ reality’ revealed in memories was understood to be more closely associated with primal fantasies than with historical reality. ‘ ( Radstone, 2000). So that with the theory of primal fantasies, which suggests that inner reality is shaped by fantasies generally, Laplanche and Pontalis points out ‘ it is only as a memory that the first scene becomes pathogenic by deferred action’ ( Laplanche and Pontalis 1988: 467- 8, cited in Radstone 2000: 87) . Under the influences of the comments of Laplanche and Pontalis about Freud; i support Radstone’ s analyse which, shows lived experience and subjectivity differentiate from history’s earlier relationship with objectivity, tries to analyse Forrest Gump in the context of temporality,memory and history.


Visual culture and memory is a comprehensive area which memory’ s situation can be researched into visual media in the context of cinepsychoanalysis. This study tries to focus how media, which is the part of visual culture, can affect societies’ perceptions of history objectively and memory subjectively on psychology framework. Societies are able to understand the US history and they can constitute their memory positively or negatively from the movie. In this manner, visual culture and memory are associated that cinema can shape societies’ perceptions about history which can be understood by the help of this study.


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