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How to Do a Fantasy Analysis of a Movie

  by: Lloyd deMause
Special Issue -"Psychohistory Of The Cinema";
The Journal of Psychohistory 20 (1) Summer 1992

Just as a fantasy analysis of a written document reduces its defensive content and leaves only the core fantasy words, so, too, a fantasy analysis of a movie needs to reduce the images to a core scenario that reveals the unconscious fantasies of the film.

I suggest the following rules to accomplish this. I have found that most films can he reduced to less than 100 images in this manner, organized into a handful of fantasy scenarios.

I. Ignore all sound.
2. Ignore all non-emotional images; i.e.. people talking or looking at each other or moving from place to place. (It is surprising to discover that most of the film's content is spent with defenses intended to rationalize away the content being conveyed.)
3. Eliminate all repeats; i.e., where the camera pans back and fonfi from hand to shower to hand to shower, only note "hand ... shower" once.
4. Divide the film's images into several scenarios.
5. Relate the film's themes to the major group-fantasies the audience is sharing during the period of the film's popularity.


I. Naked woman in shower ... breasts ... pubic hair . belly ... man strangles woman ... man rapes woman ... boy touches girl's rear gorilla ... child ... -man and woman's feet ... glove drops .. man touches woman .. doorways ... man kisses woman ... man's fingers between woman's legs ... naked woman ... child ... razor +.. woman slashes woman ... bloody woman ... bloody hand ...
2. Police ... boy with camera...
3. Slasher woman chases woman into subway ... blacks grab woman . . -woman meets policeman ... boy saves woman from slashing woman by spraying white foam on her . -. boy with woman in pajamas ...
4 Woman undresses in front of man ... boy looks through binoculars slasher woman cuts woman ... boy looks ... bloody woman's hands ... woman's naked legs ... knife ...
5. Man strangles nurse ... man undresses nurse ... man breaks window naked woman in shower ... feet in shoes ... woman's throat is slashed ... blood ... boy in bed with woman


1. We feel like gorilla-children who wish to rape our mothers until they are bloody.
2. Daddies will stop us, and we'll be limited to just looking.
3. We'll save the good mommy from the slasher mommy by spraying her with our sperm.
4. The innocent mommy bleeds down below because the bad slasher mommy cut her.
5. Daddies rape, strangle and slash mommies until they bleed. Good boys get to go to bed with mommies.


The sexual and feminist revolutions of the Seventies feel like female seductions to men who, as boys, split the asexual nurse-mommies (who tuck their sons into bed) from the sexual slasher-mommies (who engage in bloody rape with daddies). The film teaches that men should remain boys and only look, and that women's liberation might turn men into gorillas who rape, strangle and slash women.

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