Cinema of Obsession: Erotic Obsession and Love Gone Wrong  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cinema of Obsession: Erotic Obsession and Love Gone Wrong is a book by Dominique Mainon and James Ursini, published in 2007 by Limelight Editions. The book traces the history of obsessive love and amour fou in cinema and starts with Theda Bara.

It begins with an overview of "mad love" in literature and myth, then moves quickly into an in-depth overview of the theme in modern cinema. From its origins in the myths of Ovid such as Pygmalion-Galatea, Psyche and Cupid, and Narcissus to medieval tales of tragic love triangles like that of Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot and Mark-Isolde-Tristan and on to the Romantic tales of the Brontës and twentieth-century works of writers of erotica like D. H. Lawrence and Anais Nin, this theme has become emblematic in cinema today.

The book features seminal works in obsession themes like Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou, Dietrich’s The Blue Angel, Peter Ibbetson, Phantom of the Opera, Renoir’s La Bête humaine, and Of Human Bondage, which set the groundwork for films to follow. It also defines and examples of the explosive nature of amour fou with adaptations of legendary films such as Romeo and Juliet, Duel in the Sun, Wuthering Heights, Carmen, Last Tango in Paris, Betty Blue, Sid and Nancy, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and the more recent films of Wong Kar Wai and Almodovar.

Theme

The book's theme encompasses issues of attempted male control over the object of his obsession, which is highlighted in films like Franju’s Eyes without a Face, Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Marnie, Basic Instinct, Visconti’s Death in Venice, Fellini’s The Temptation of Doctor Anthony. Male masochism, a key element in many of the films, especially film noirs like Criss Cross, The Killers, Gilda, The Postman Always Rings Twice, and more modern explorations like Lolita and Cronenberg’s M. Butterfly, earns its own chapter.

The fugitive couple, love on the run, another noir theme, is also studied centering on films like Gun Crazy, Truffaut’s Mississippi Mermaid and its recent remake with Angelina Jolie Original Sin, Moulin Rouge, and Lynch’s Wild at Heart. The book shifts gears in its finale and concentrates on the female gaze, films of female obsession: e.g., Jane Eyre, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Piano, The Story of Adele H., The Lover, Fatal Attraction, Vanilla Sky, to name but a few. From the same authors of The Modern Amazons: Warrior Women On-Screen, this book also contains hundreds of illustrations, a filmography of over one hundred films, and a complete bibliography.

From the publisher

Cinema of Obsession traces the history of obsessive love and erotic fixation. Seminal works of obsession, The Blue Angel, Peter Ibbetson, and Phantom of the Opera are seen as setting the groundwork for films that follow. The book defines and surveys examples of the explosive nature of amour fou, issues of male control (no matter how tenuous), and the fugitive couple - love on the run - in such films as Romeo and Juliet, Last Tango in Paris, Vertigo, Basic Instinct, and Wild at Heart. Male masochism is explored through film noirs, including Criss Cross, The Killers, Gilda, and The Postman Always Rings Twice. The book shifts gears in its finale and concentrates on the female gaze, films of female obsession: Jane Eyre, The Piano, The Lover, Fatal Attraction, and Vanilla Sky.

TOC

  • Introduction: Inverted Desire and Obsessive Love xi
    • Obsessive Love in the Cinema: The Seminal Films 1 (68)
    • Amour Fou: Postwar Sexual/Romantic Implosion 69 (54)
    • Love on the Run: The Fugitive Couple 123(36)
    • A Voyeur's Tale: The Male Gaze 159(122)
    • The Tables Turned: The Female Gaze 281(74)
  • Appendix: The Literary, Philosophical, and 355(12)
  • Psychological Roots of Obsession and Mad Love




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