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Sexuality And Dreams

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"Belle de Jour" and the Importance of Dreams

Indulging in a film such as "Belle de Jour" offers the voyeur a chance to witness wish fulfillment without guilt or consequences. People want to eat the cake but not gain the weight. They want to have sex with multiple partners and not be seen as immoral by their peers or loved ones. They desire to physically lash out at someone and beat the holy hell out of them and not go to prison. They hunger to bare their latent homosexuality and not be crucified for it. Perhaps, even, to follow a promiscuous married woman during her daily life and become delightfully, deliciously disgusted by her behavior. This is the power of film. The ability to utterly satisfy bizarre cravings and leave the audience with a clean finish. The freedom to walk out of the theater, clear of conscience and morality intact. Dreams allow this same luxury. Nightly images float about the minds of the 'audience' fulfilling whatever the unconscious mind deems worthy. In the film "Belle de Jour" the power of cinematic genius incorporates Freud's Interpretation of Dreams providing the viewer with a chance to escape reality while realizing the significance of dreams.

The character Severine initial daydream of the horse drawn carriage ride with her husband begins sweetly enough. However, this is not what she desires. The action escalates to the shocking scene of her being beaten and eventually raped by unknown men. In the dream's beginning she furiously tries to resist the attacks. The action becomes more and more intense and she eventually succumbs to the advances of the first coachman. This was no dream; it was in fact a daydream. Severine is awake, propped up in bed on her pillow. When her husband walks by her bed he asks her what is she thinking and she replies that she is thinking about him. Freud describes daydreams as "phantasies" (Freud, 120). The person is actively involved with the imagery, unlike nocturnal dreams where the dreamer has little hand in what is offered during the night. These phantasies are "...products of the imagination...dominated by a very transparent motive...his erotic wishes find satisfaction" (Freud, 120). Severine is frantically searching for sexual satisfaction, as she does not receive this from Pierre, her husband. She understands, however, that she must find sexual gratification and freedom by analyzing and knowing herself before she can openly give herself to her spouse. However, she has no worries about giving herself to another man in front of Pierre.

During one of her dreams, Severine is imagining Husson and his girlfriend having lunch with she and Pierre. Just days before she was disgusted by Husson's chauvinistic, openly sexual advances towards her. However, during this dream lunch, she and Husson decide to duck under the table and engage one another in front of their significant others. Husson's girl playfully tells Pierre that they are "fooling around" (Belle de Jour). Pierre nods and asks her to look again and tell him what was happening at that moment. The girl replies "Oh, he just handed her a packet of lily seeds" (Belle de Jour). Obviously this was a symbolism of Husson having an orgasm, and the flower seeds were in fact his own genetic seed. According to Freud "Blossoms and flowers indicate women's genitals..." (Freud, 195). Throughout her dreams and daydreams she keeps pursuing the same basic needs. However, each dream is manipulated into something a bit different. Freud refers to this as displacement (Freud, 172). "It manifests itself in two ways; in the first, a latent element is replaced not by a component part of itself but by something more remote-that is by an allusion; and in the second the psychical accent is shifted from an important element on to another which is unimportant, so that the dream appears differently centered and strange" (Freud, 214). Belle de Jour becomes an allusion of Severine. Belle is a "substitutive structure" of Severine. "But they are allusions which are not easily recognizable as such, from which the path back to the genuine thing is not easily traced, and which are connected with the genuine thing by the strangest, most unusual, external associations" (Freud, 290). These associations were invented because of Severine's troubled sexual experience as a child.

The mental journey continues as she attempts to conquer childhood memories that have perhaps tainted her sensuality. The consequence of not answering her mother while the handyman fondled her haunts her and increases her guilt. Does she feel compelled to invent someone that is naughtier then the little schoolgirl from her past? Possibly Severine must do something sexually deviant of her own free will to liberate herself from her shameful childhood memories. During one of her daydreams she is seen in a pasture dressed in white, as she is dressed in white as a child during her communion. The purity of the color is a stark contrast to the brown, decaying grass and landscape that surrounds



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