PROJECTIONS: Death Drive on Film [Livestream & Recording]

Course with Mary Wild on 19th and 20th March 2021, 2-5pm [GMT]

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19 March, 2:00 pm - 20 March, 5:00 pm

£35 – £40

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You’ll receive your webinar joining link in a separate email, once you’ve registered. Recording access will be automatically sent to attendees the following day.

In psychoanalytic theory, the death drive is understood as the tendency toward destruction, often expressed via behaviours such as aggression and compulsively repeating negative life patterns.

“Unbeing dead isn’t being alive.”E.E. Cummings
It was a concept initially proposed by Sabina Spielrein in her paper Destruction as the Cause of Coming Into Being (1912), which was then taken up by Sigmund Freud in Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920), defining the death drive as being in opposition to Eros (i.e., the affirmation of life through survival, propagation, productivity, and romance).

The simultaneously binding and clashing forces of the life instinct and the death drive together form an entwined dual system that is the source of all creation. That’s a controversial claim, because our society is constructed around valuing life above all else; to even suggest that on some level we are preoccupied with death, or engaging in self-sabotage, runs the risk of being perceived as a character flaw or an admission of personal failing.

In this 2-part online course, we will attempt to isolate the death drive on film, engaging with cinematic representations of the urge to relive painful past events, sadistic actions taken against the self and others, the unconscious wish of returning to an inorganic state, and rejecting the well-intentioned call to “choose life” in the popular discourse. The proposition here is that there is a cultural merit in coming to terms with the death drive, as it helps us to identify, comprehend and integrate harmful impulses in a functional, sublimated way.

Content warning: graphic imagery will be presented, viewer discretion is advised. Advanced viewing is optional, brief film scenes will be shown during the webinar.



Damage (1992), Exotica (1994), An American Werewolf in London (1981), The Souvenir (2019)


Weekend At Bernie’s (1989), Death Becomes Her (1992), Funny Games (1997), Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (2019)


PROJECTIONS is psychoanalysis for film interpretation. PROJECTIONS empowers film spectators to express subjective associations they consider to be meaningful. Expertise in psychoanalytic theory is not necessary – the only prerequisite is the desire to enter and inhabit the imaginary world of film, which is itself a psychoanalytic act. MARY WILD, a Freudian cinephile from Montreal, is the creator of PROJECTIONS.


We are offering a number of limited bursary places at £15, with priority given to UK Unemployed and PIP/ESA claimants. Click here to apply.


19 March, 2:00 pm
20 March, 5:00 pm
£35 – £40
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