Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) is widely regarded as one of the most influential psychoanalysts of the 20th century, one whose work has refashioned psychiatry both as a theory of the unconscious mind and as a clinical practice. His seminars and writings have also had a widespread influence throughout the humanities and social sciences, especially in education, legal studies, literary and film studies and women's studies.
As JACQUES LACAN SPEAKS, a rare filmed documentary record of a 1971 university speaking appearance, makes clear, Lacan was also a highly controversial figure, with legions of both worshipful adherents and scornful critics. Appearing before a packed lecture hall, Lacan discourses—in his slow, deliberate, often circumlocuitous speaking style—on such subjects as death, language, psychoanalysis, love, alienation, paranoia and life itself.
At one point his talk is disrupted by a young student, who contributes his own Situationist-inspired ridicule of self-styled public intellectuals such as Lacan. Rather than allowing security personnel to remove him, Lacan allows the young man to speak and later attempts to "respond" to his criticisms and to incorporate them into his presentation.
The following morning, Lacan submits to a filmed interview—interspersed with images of the various apartments, consulting rooms and lecture halls he used throughout his career—in which he responds to the filmmaker's questions about psychoanalysis, discussing how delirium reveals the unconscious, the role of the psychoanalyst, the relationship between doctor and patient, the process of transference, and the close bond between love and hate.
This generally respectful documentary does include some barbed criticisms, noting that as a psychoanalyst Lacan was most noted for his "short sessions and high fees," and that his university seminars often looked like "sleepers' conventions." As a rare historical record of this significant thinker, JACQUES LACAN SPEAKS will further fuel the continuing debate over his intellectual legacy.
“Offers the opportunity to see Lacan in action.” —The Journal of Lacanian Studies
2007 American Psychological Association Convention
2005 Marseille International Documentary Festival
2002 Cinéma du Réel
"An important addition to the steadily growing popular archive of Lacan's work."—Tina R. Jajkowski, Women & Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory
"Twenty years after his death, the psychoanalyst transmits his oratorical magic thanks to this documentary... this is truly unique in that Jacque Lacan refused all recordings of his lectures even though his teaching was essentially oral."—Center of Wallonia-Brussels Interdisciplinary Studies, University of Quebec
"To read Lacan is to tumble into an endless maze of contradictions, repetitions, and paradoxes. Just as language itself is a sinuous journey with endless associations, so too is our mind. Lacan presents his theories in the self-reflexive manner in which he believes the mind operates. His style and methodology became a touchstone for Structuralism, Poststructuralism, and Deconstruction, as well as for Marxist, Postmodern, and feminist critical thought."—Art&Culture.com
"Lacan is arguably the leading figure, after Freud, in the effort to bring psychoanalytic thought into dialogue with other disciplines, and he is largely responsible for the place occupied by psychoanalysis today in literary and cultural theory."—The Literary Encyclopedia