Grief as a Cognitive Metaphore in “Manchester by the Sea”

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The article is devoted to analysis of Kenneth Lonergan’s Manchester by the Sea (1916) through the category of so-called “cinema of grief” dealing with the problems of enduring trauma of loss of the dear ones. The gist of the topic is institutionalization of the concealed ego of the protagonist through the death of the Other. Thus the treatment concerns sorrows of the trauma which undergoes either positive dinamic of its overcoming, or a negative form of embedding into the loss. The author assumes, that in Lonergan’s film the second case is visually articulated, anyhow logically drawing to the positive vector disclosing the concealed identity of the protagonist. The arc of the hero is traced on three levels, that is the film composition, psychological discordance of the protagonist and the soundtrack as a certain subtext of the picture. The study is based on the sources discussing the problem in question: Ziegmund Freud’s Mourning and Melancholia, in which Freud argued that mourning comes to a decisive end when the subject severs its emotional attachment to the lost one, and on the works by Nicolas Abraham and Maria Török about mourning disorder (introjection versus incorporation). The composition of the film is structured around flashbacks explaining the reasons for a pervasive cloud of shame, sadness, and guilt that follows the protagonist in the mourning process. In his architecture of grieving the filmmaker actually describes the protagonist’s melancholia in Freudian terms as a painful depression without any concern towards the outside world. He is characterized by a loss of the ability to love, reticence in any activity and decreased self-criticism and craving for punishment. Anyhow the musical accompaniment not only illustrates the depressed protagonist state of mind but also - with Handel’s Messiah at the climax point predetermines the finale with his crucial changing.

About the authors

Nina А Tsyrkun


Author for correspondence.

Russian Federation

Doctor in Arts, Department of Modern Screen Art, Institute of Film Art, VGIK


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Abstract - 102

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