Aisling Campbell – A Twist in the Tale

THE LETTER 33 (Spring 2005) pages 51-60

In considering the topic for my presentation today, my first thought was that by discussing The Village. I would give the ending away and spoil it altogether for those of you who have not seen it. It is a movie with a “twist in the tale” at the end, like the other movies I will discuss, The Sixth Sense and The Others. The twist, as usual, adds an extra frisson of anxiety to whatever frightening things we have already seen; we are often asked, as we leave the cinema, not to give the ending away to others who have not seen it. As well the risk of reprisal for revealing the end, the other risk of writing about any movie is that Zizek has already done so and has said virtually all there is to be said about it!

The popularity of these movies bears witness to the fact that the twist is structural to the subject. In all of them, the ending throws an entirely different perspective on the subjective discourse of the main characters and retroactively shows up their inconsistency; the twist in the tale reveals the retroactive nature of repression and the dependence of the subjective discourse on this inconsistency and on an ignorance of it. The movies reveal the subject as structured like a Moebius strip – literally with a twist – in which the border, where inside and outside are shown to have a common surface, is the locus of anxiety.

In The Sixth Sense, Bruce Willis plays Dr. Malcolm Crowe, a successful child psychologist. He has a beautiful house, a beautiful wife and is clearly in the position of Master – he has just received an award for his work, although we get the sense that this work has never impinged very much on his subjectivity. However, the Real is only waiting in the wings – or in this case, the bathroom – in the shape of a deranged ex-patient of his, who holds him responsible for the failures of his life and has…

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