On the Experience of a Melancholic Gaze

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This article focuses on Lars von Trier’s 2011 film, Melancholia, described as ‘a beautiful film about the end of the world’ and interlocking personal and global tragedy. Drawing directly on her personal emotional response to the film, and referring to her profound incapacity to talk about it for many years after an initial encounter with it, the author turns to a range of object relations psychoanalytic thinkers to consider what such experience has to say about lived emotional relationships to cinema, and its role in shaping and articulating psychological, and affective states. The article touches on debates about the cinematic gaze, and the role of film as a psychological object, and considers whether film might be seen as offering a form of therapeutic encounter for viewers.

© 2019, BPF and John Wiley & Sons Ltd. The attached document (embargoed until 29/01/2020) is an author produced version of a paper published in BRITISH JOURNAL OF PSYCHOTHERAPY uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self- archiving policy. The final published version (version of record) is available online at the link below. Some minor differences between this version and the final published version may remain. We suggest you refer to the final published version should you wish to cite from it.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)142-155
JournalBritish Journal of Psychotherapy
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jan 2019


  • Melancholia
  • Lars von Trier
  • cinema
  • affect
  • film
  • object relations

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