Flashmag Digizine Edition Issue 107 July 2020 - Page 109

Flashmag July 2020 www.flashmag.net


Freud places himself here following the work of Gustave Le Bon on The Psychology of Crowds and invites us to think, before the rise of totalitarian movements in Europe, the methods of controlling the imagination of the masses.

Hypnosis and cinema have this thing in common with the imaginary. However, the social impact should not be minimized. On the contrary, the images that these two practices summon are active, and in this "iconodynamics", they become ideas that determine the action of crowds. The XXth century thus opens with a discovery: the production of the image corresponds to the control of bodies; to control the imaginary is to control the relationships of bodies between them.

The first thinkers of cinema very early on, observed the link between hypnosis and cinematographic art. To give meaning to this new social experience that is cinema, the whole ideology and imagination of modern hypnosis are reinvested. Hypnosis is not only used to think about cinema, but also to experience it if we follow Jean Epstein:

I could never say how much I love American close-ups. Net. Suddenly the screen spreads a face and the drama, head to head, runs close to me and swells at unexpected intensities. Hypnosis. Now the tragedy is anatomical. An inner conviction hoists the mask. It's not about interpreting; what matters is the double act of faith. To the point where one distraction becomes a distraction from the other. The director suggests, then persuades, then hypnotizes. The film is only a relay between this source of nervous energy and the room which breathes its radiation.

Closer to home, Roland Barthes (“En sortant du cinéma “ Leaving the cinema”, 1975) and Raymond Bellour (Le Corps du cinema. Hypnoses, emotions, animalités, POL, 2009) continue the description of the lived experience of the cinema spectator in the relating to that of the hypnotized subject.

Starting from the identification of this historical and theoretical braiding between hypnosis and cinema, Ruggero Eugeni proposes, this time focusing on the presence of hypnotists in films, a chronology marking the emergence, the expansion , then the decline.

Magnetizers and other manipulators are frequently taken for the subject of short films which make up the bulk of early cinema productions, such as Chez le magnétiste by Alice Guy Blaché (1897). Maurice Tourneur's Trilby, adapted from the previously mentioned novel, marks a turning point by proposing a pictorial and theoretical work on the hypnosis device.

Zvengali is presented in shadow puppets, behind a veil, behind the scenes in various preparations that remain mysterious - in the cinema, the hypnotist acts behind the canvas, from the screen. To hypnotize Trilby, he obviously invites him to look him in the eye, but above all he has this revealing gesture (at 2mn57): he runs his hand over his face. By this movement, he marks the separation of the hypnotized subject from the context that surrounds him, and creates like a screen on which he seems to project images that will make him act - in this case, Trilby can only sing on stage thanks to this process.

If the film by Tourneur opens the period that Ruggero Eugeni identifies as that of the "metaphorization of the film system", the years 1930-1975 are that in which metaphor finds expression in the classic genres of cinema, since German expressionism (the Mabuse series, Nosferatu…) up to major Hollywood productions such as the musical film Le Pirate by Minnelli in 1948, where Judy Garland lets herself be taken in by Gene Kelly's suggestions… At the heart of the American show lies a confession: the machine to produce fiction is hypnotic.

The metaphor finally conquers author cinema, from the 70s to the dawn of the 90s. In Lars von Trier, it becomes a critical tool; The Element of crime (1984) inaugurates a trilogy devoted to Europe, whose contemporary condition is described as a hypnotic state.

Overused since the invention of cinema, the metaphor of hypnosis has become obsolete, since the 1990s, to describe the effects of the dark room as well as to manifest forms of power. Cinema is the son of an imagination linked to a certain idea of power: we can control bodies by controlling the images that act in bodies.