The image of childhood as a fetish. The City of Lost Children by Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro
In Jean Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro's 'City of Lost Children', the image of childhood takes on the role of a fetish, as defined by Neo-Freudian psychoanalysis. The primordial childhood fear is revealed in the split picture of artificial dreams present in the prologue, and the image of dreams just before the end of the film. Both scenes of this disturbing film are grounded in the same symbolic space. Bearing in mind that this film presents adults as egoistical, deviant, sick or thoughtless beings, the death of an adult, in this case the death of Krank, who stole children's dreams, is the death of the world of adults, those adults, who are no longer capable of maintaining their own defensive mechanisms. In such a world, children are treated as sources of energy, that will serve to sustain the suppressed adult drives, and the childhood is merely an illusion, upholding the stability of institutionalized world. The question of where does this image of childhood as a fetish comes from appears less important than the question of how this image works and why it is so persistent.
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