(Don't) look back: three Portraits of a Lady on Fire

Article


Tyrer, B. 2025. (Don't) look back: three Portraits of a Lady on Fire. Film-Philosophy.
TypeArticle
Title(Don't) look back: three Portraits of a Lady on Fire
AuthorsTyrer, B.
Abstract

This article explores the dialectical movement of Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (Portrait de la jeune fille en feu, 2019) through close attention to three visual logics, or “portraits” painted by the film. That Portrait of a Lady on Fire offers a cinematic meditation on the “gaze” is self-evident: Marianne’s first painting of Héloïse is created according to an aesthetic logic already described by Laura Mulvey, while the second, co-created painting embodies Sciamma’s declaration that the film is a “manifesto about the female gaze” and inspires Iris Brey’s critical framework in Le regard féminin. To this, I will add a third logic, embodied in the cine-portrait painted by Sciamma/Mathon’s camera in the film’s final shot of Héloïse/Adèle Haenel. I will argue that the encounter with this shot’s duration necessitates a reconsideration of Portrait’s film-philosophical significance as an exploration of the “gaze”, leading us towards a Lacano-Hegelian paradigm. In short, my claim is that – through its modalities of the gaze – Sciamma’s film stages the drama of recognition and its failure described by Hegel in the Phenomenology of Spirit, and in doing so compels us to recognise its dialectical movement from self-consciousness to the absolute, with contradiction as its motor force.

KeywordsSciamma; Hegel; psychoanalysis; gaze; recognition
Sustainable Development Goals10 Reduced inequalities
Middlesex University ThemeCreativity, Culture & Enterprise
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
JournalFilm-Philosophy
ISSN
Electronic1466-4615
Publication process dates
Accepted14 Feb 2024
Deposited19 Feb 2024
Output statusAccepted
Accepted author manuscript
License
File Access Level
Open
Copyright Statement

This article has been accepted for publication by Edinburgh University Press in the journal Film-Philosophy. The final published article will be available at https://www.euppublishing.com/loi/film

The CC-BY-NC license applies to the manuscript text, for reuse of other content permission should be sought.

LanguageEnglish
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