To begin with, the essay identifies shortcomings in classical suture theory's approach to film's narration of consciousness. This approach, which has been widely influential in film theory, grew out of work by Jean-Pierre Oudart, Jacques-Alain Miller, Daniel Dayan, Stephen Heath, and Kaja Silverman and emphasizes a Lacanian drama of absence. This model of suture has also been the focus of important criticism by scholars like David Bordwell and Noel Carroll. My alternative paradigm of embodiment and multiple consciousnesses, what I call deep intersubjectivity, emerges from Maurice Merleau-Ponty's phenomenology, with contributions from Oudart's own phenomenological observations, and seeks to return the body (including its politics) to suture and to film narrative. The fundamental image drawn from Merleau-Ponty is the chiasmus, the film version of which is the shot/reverse shot sequence. I conclude with close readings of two moments from Michael Roemer's 1964 film about African American life, Nothing but a Man: they illustrate how suture enables the narration of intersubjectivity in film, in its embodiments (including the political) from violation and humiliation to evasion, opacity, and sometimes a recuperation, even if incomplete, of community, however temporary or partial.
George Butte; Suture and the Narration of Subjectivity in Film. Poetics Today 1 June 2008; 29 (2): 277–308. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-2007-026
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