The Ghostly Double: The Crisis of (Gendered) Subjectivity and Self in Asato Mari’s “Bairokeshon”


From Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo" to Darren Aronofsky's "Black Swan," the double or doppelgänger motif remains prevalent in psychological horror films. The idea of a divided/ duplicated self involves the disassociation of one's identity that often results in the creation of an uncontrollable evil 'other'. Moreover, the double is deeply connected to the Freudian concept of 'the return of the repressed' in which a (deadly) manifestation of suppressed desires arises to disrupt both symbolic and imaginary orders. The premise of Asato Mari's "Bairokeshon" (2013) revolves around a female artist who is threatened by her dead ringer' an entity that is referred to in the narrative as a 'bilocation'. Deliberately portrayed as a newly married woman, the protagonist negotiates her gendered role as a self-sacrificing wife while attempting to remain committed to her art. Such negotiation articulates a struggle for gender equality that persists among the female characters as the constraints of marriage and/or motherhood further propel the monstrosity of their bilocations. This paper focuses on the study of the protagonist's double as an embodiment of a profound cultural anxiety that is related to the socio-political crisis in contemporary Japan due to the changing roles and status of women. The film situates the double as a form of dread as it becomes symptomatic of the female desire for autonomy in a society confined by patriarchal order. This calls for a discussion on the issue of feminine subjectivity that renders itself as problematic in the narrative.

Author Information
Shana Sanusi, Taylor's University, Malaysia

Paper Information
Conference: ACAH2016
Stream: Humanities - Media, Film Studies, Theatre, Communication

This paper is part of the ACAH2016 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon