Doctor Destouches, Léos Carax, and the “Emotive Account”

One-eyed cinematic creatures Left - Buster Keaton in Samuel Beckett's Film Right - Juliette Binoche in Léos Carax' "The Lovers on the Bridge"

One-eyed cinematic creatures
Left – Buster Keaton in Samuel Beckett’s “Film”
Right – Juliette Binoche in Léos Carax’ “The Lovers on the Bridge”

From Dziga Vertov’s Camera-Eye to Buñuel’s sliced-up eyeball, along through Samuel Beckett’s cyclopic Buster Keaton, the lone eye returning its regard from the screen is an ocular sign of reflexivity, of cinema looking not only at us but at itself as well.

The two-eyed regard is the human gaze occurring inside of cinematic artifice, of one character looking at an object. One eye less and the regard becomes the camera’s gaze, reaching from within the film out into the viewer’s space. Whereas binocular vision asserts its perception of the world as truth, the monocular vision is the world elevated into photographic artifice. Close one eye, reduce perception by a dimension; open it again, and reveal the artifice of binocular vision too.

In Les Amants du Pont Neuf (English title: The Lovers on the Bridge), when Denis Lavant’s monomaniacal tramp Alex falls incorrigibly in love with Juliette Binoche’s one-eyed vagabond Michèle, the two run-down, down-and-out, out-of-luck homeless paramours are distanced enough from society’s center that they can live out an impossible, even legendary love. This love only is possible because of Michele’s eye disease which leaves her wandering the street with one eye covered like Keaton and so many other personifications of cinema

Read the rest here on MUBI notebook

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