Broadcast: 19-20 March, 2021

Duration:6 hours 5 minutes

PROJECTIONS: Death Drive on Film

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. 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.


Freud Museum On Demand

When you rent one of our On Demand events, you will be able to watch it right away and stream the video anytime during the specified rental period.

Simply click the Rent button in the top right of the video. A pop-up window will open where you can sign up/log in to Vimeo. You will be given the option to pay by credit/debit card or PayPal. Once the payment has gone through you will be able to play the full video immediately.

You can watch the video straight from our page once you’ve paid or log in to your Vimeo account, where you can find all the videos that you have rented.

If you are a Member you can apply your promo code when you enter your billing info, for 20% discount.

More details on watching your purchased videos can be found here.

Find all of our available On Demand events here.