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On Replacement pp 207-216 | Cite as

Embodying her ghost: self-replacement in Petzold’s Phoenix

  • Monika Loewy
Chapter

Abstract

‘I no longer exist,’ mutters the protagonist Nelly under her breath in Christian Petzold’s 2014 film Phoenix. The film chronicles the journey of Nelly, an Auschwitz survivor, to find her husband Johnny, who fails to recognise her due to reconstructive facial surgery. Echoing Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), Johnny convinces her to take on the identity of his supposedly deceased wife (Nelly’s ‘prewar self’) in order to obtain her inheritance. This chapter traces Nelly’s struggle to be replaced by, and simultaneously to replace, her prewar self in a postwar Germany. Sigmund Freud’s concept of the uncanny and Donald Winnicott’s notion of the ‘True’ and ‘False’ Self will be used to unpack these thoughts. Ultimately, this chapter follows Nelly’s journey both towards and away from replacing her own ghost.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Monika Loewy
    • 1
  1. 1.Goldsmiths, University of LondonLondonUK

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