Introduction: Cinema, Technologies of Visibility, and the Reanimation of Desire



When, at the outset of Sam Mendes’s American Beauty (1999), the disembodied voice of a dead Lester Burnham (Kevin Spacey) declares “I’m already dead,” he is, in fact, directing film spectators to review with him images of the psychically numb life he led while he was alive. But if Lester is livelier in death than in life, it is because in the moment before his murder he recognizes how to avoid remaining the double of a figure he jokes about—the undead star of the science fiction comedy Re-animator (dir. Stuart Gordon, 1985); that is, Lester must forgo the chance to act on his fantasy of sleeping with his daughter’s teenage friend, Angela (Mena Suvari). He must accept, in the words of Mendes, “what it means to be a father again.”1


Critical Work Critical Practice Psychic Life Deadening Effect Paternal Function 
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© Vincent J. Hausmann 2011

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