Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)
Jacques Lacan Speaks (1971)

As JACQUES LACAN SPEAKS, a rare filmed documentary record of a 1971 university speaking appearance, makes clear, Lacan was also a highly controversial figure, with legions of both worshipful adherents and scornful critics. Appearing before a packed lecture hall, Lacan discourses—in his slow, deliberate, often circumlocuitous speaking style—on such subjects as death, language, psychoanalysis, love, alienation, paranoia and life itself.

At one point his talk is disrupted by a young student, who contributes his own Situationist-inspired ridicule of self-styled public intellectuals such as Lacan. Rather than allowing security personnel to remove him, Lacan allows the young man to speak and later attempts to “respond” to his criticisms and to incorporate them into his presentation.

The following morning, Lacan submits to a filmed interview—interspersed with images of the various apartments, consulting rooms and lecture halls he used throughout his career—in which he responds to the filmmaker’s questions about psychoanalysis, discussing how delirium reveals the unconscious, the role of the psychoanalyst, the relationship between doctor and patient, the process of transference, and the close bond between love and hate.