Journal Article

The logic of the cinematic in Portrait of a Lady on Fire


The following analysis of Céline Sciamma’s film Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019) begins by enlisting Jean-Pierre Oudart’s notorious and controversial essay on suture in order to accentuate the nuances of the film’s specific cinematic logic. However, except for the final section, this analysis minimizes Oudart’s psychoanalytic concepts and instead emphasizes his theory’s materialist dimension, which draws principally from the work of Noël Burch. Burch’s work is invaluable for defining the specific form of film in terms of spatio-temporal articulation (camera placement, shot scale, duration of the single shot, editing, the dialectic between on-screen and off-screen space and sound), and the representation of character subjectivity (flashbacks, voiceover, the camera’s representation of a character’s awareness and optical experience of the film’s diegesis). In the final section, Kaja Silverman’s reinterpretation of suture theory and Sandy Flitterman-Lewis’s analysis of cinematic enunciation are enlisted to investigate the relation between cinematic logic, the female gaze, and the enunciator in Portrait of a Lady on Fire.

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Buckland, Warren

Oxford Brookes departments

School of Arts


Year of publication: 2020
Date of RADAR deposit: 2020-11-12

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