The Dialectic of Desire between Jean-Luc Godard and George Steven's "A Place in the Sun"

  • Pietro Bianchi


There is a brief sequence in “Histoire(s) du cinéma” where Jean-Luc Godard superimposes images of prisoners of concentration camps, shot by American filmmaker George Stevens, with his 1951 melodrama “A Place in the Sun”. Stevens’ film, according to Godard, would express an unconscious desire that remained implicit in the relationship between cinema and the representation of the Holocaust. This essay discusses in which sense “A Place in the Sun” can be considered one of the most nuanced and sophisticated reflections on unconscious desire and why Godard in making that provocative comparison was ultimately right (even though for reasons different than he might have thought).