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Still Dots #27

A similar, if not truly identical, figure presents herself in this classic episode from The Simpsons. 1998′s Girly Edition cast Lisa and Bart in a rivalrous co-anchor position on the new television program, Kidz Newz. When Bart’s sensationalist Bart’s People segments lift him to easy success, Lisa tries to fight fire with fire by going […]

Second #1612, 26:52, Image © Studio Canal

Today’s frame puts us up close and personal with Fraulein Anna Schmidt, her face has just turned slowly up toward the windows of her apartment and seeing the shadowy figures inside, Anna’s eyes have slowly closed. Whatever is visible  in those windows is so horrible to be practically unseeable, never shown to us directly, and Anna herself blocks them from her mind. Is this some kind of unconscious reaction? As we may all remember, Vienna is the city of Freud, and thus the home of the unconscious as we know it today. Freud’s “unconscious” was closely related to another concept which the Viennese Freud referred to as the “unheimliche.” In English this phrase is generally translated as “uncanny” but its root word means more literally “unhomelike,” as Freud analyzes relatively deftly in his article Das Unheimliche. What Anna sees looking into the windows of her home is certainly unhomelike, but as Freud points out:

“the uncanny [unheimlich] is something which is secretly familiar [heimlich-heimisch], which has undergone repression and then returned from it . . . everything that is uncanny fulfils this condition.”

Is the physical closure of her eyes the first symptom of her repression? Considering what we will find inside her apartment we might consider that the repressive functions of Anna’s unconscious have been fully personified, since she (with Holly in tow) will stumble into an apartment full of cops searching through all of her goods. As Paine will eventually take both her passport and her love letters into his custody and offer her a receipt so that she can reclaim them, it’s hard not to be reminded of Freud’s agency of repression. In his landmark analysis in The Interpretation of Dreams, Freud described the mental agency responsible for making the dream palatable to the conscious mind–an agency he would later delineate and divide into several separate entities–but he first calls it, tellingly, “the censor.” It’s hard not to be reminded of such an agent of repression as we watch military police confiscating love letters, despite her protests that “there’s nothing in them.”

Worth delving into is the series of events that have brought us to this situation. Certainly some of the blame falls on Anna, or at least on her involvement with Harry, since the presence of cops in her apartment is ostensibly a part of their investigation of Harry’s death. But Holly’s presence at her side is a result of his own (and by proxy Anna’s) investigation. To recap, coming straight from the game-changing evidence provided by Harry’s porter, and his subsequent condemnation of Holly and the investigation, Holly offers to walk Anna home, a practical offer in the dark Viennese streets. Coming up to her front door, Holly tries to put the moves on her with a subtle “if I do find something out, can I look you up again?” Suddenly, cramping his style, a babbling German woman (Anna’s landlord) bursts in on them, yelling about the commotion going on upstairs. This figure, a mad babbling woman, is worth a still. This is the image that faces Anna and Holly, and pops the bubble of their (perhaps) growing romance:

Image © Studio Canal

A similar, if not truly identical, figure presents herself in this classic episode from The Simpsons. 1998′s Girly Edition cast Lisa and Bart in a rivalrous co-anchor position on the new television program, Kidz Newz. When Bart’s sensationalist Bart’s People segments lift him to easy success, Lisa tries to fight fire with fire by going sensationalist in her own youth journalism. If it’s true, as George Santayana wrote in 1905, that “those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it,” then Lisa has clearly not learned from The Third Man, since she seeks out this same babbling figure 50 years later.

Over the absolute length of one year — two times per week — Still Dots will grab a frame every 62 seconds of Carol Reed’s The Third Man. This project will run until December 2012, when we finish at second 6324For a complete archive of the project, click here. For an introduction to the project, click here.