Internationally acclaimed filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta has inspired astute, psychoanalytically informed scholarship that uniformly shies away from analyzing the taboo act that distinguishes three of her early films. Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness, Marianne and Juliane, and Sheer Madness are subtle portrayals of female suicides. Von Trotta's nuanced stagings of suicidal depression, fantasies, attempts, and postsuicide trauma; blunt depictions of the female corpse as monstrous feminine; and emphasis on the impact of silenced mothers on their daughters invite critics to question her rigorous use of suicide as an aesthetic strategy. This essay comparing and contrasting the three films draws on Julia Kristeva's seminal work Black Sun (1989) to uncover subplots and read suicide as a means to enhance or rupture power constellations written by paternal law.


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pp. 122-144
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