“Room, door . . . room”: Oneiric Space in L’Avventura and Last Year in Marienbad

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Abstract

Cinema and dreams inhabit the same psychoemotional realm. This essay was written to explore this connection by marrying studies in dream psychology to avant-garde film theory. To do this, the essay provides a critical analysis of scenes from Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (Pennasilico & Antonioni, 1960) and Alain Resnais’s L’Année dernière à Marienbad (Courau, Froment, Dorfmann, Dauman, & Resnais, 1961). Research is built from an instructive critical landscape focusing on the ongoing tensions between the spatial, oneirological explorations of film, as used in J. Allan Hobson’s studies on REM sleep cycles, and the psychoanalytical theory of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. There is a gap in research that has yet to further explore these tensions alongside film, which this article addresses. The argument is put forth that the treatment of offscreen and onscreen space interacts with the subconscious of characters in the films and, through that, the spectator’s subconscious mind. An analytical discourse is assembled that deviates from the metaphorical, psychoanalytical model of spectatorship and focuses on studying the films from the perspective of dream space.

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