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AbstractThe paper applies Lacanian psychoanalysis to a well-known phenomenon in documentary practice, namely, that those who appear in films usually violently dislike their representation in the final film. Broadcasting organizations have sets of rules and regulations to deal with this ‘inconvenience’. I put forward a suggestion that the source of this anxiety lies in the notion of the double, which draws from Freud's ‘The Uncanny’ (1910) as recently developed by philosopher Mladen Dolar. I apply it to the process of documentary filmmaking. I give an example of the documentary The Best Job in the World (2009), which I directed for BBC1. In it, the participants were first invited to create their own short digital self-portraits with the material shot by us and edited later. I quote from their reports submitted in due course about their feelings about their portrayal in the film. The issue of control over one's representation seems of crucial importance. It appears that the arrival of ‘the double’, which the contributors had no control over created a sense of deep discomfort, even when that ‘double’ appeared more flattering that the contributors' perceptions of their own selves, suggesting more complicated unconscious processes.
CitationPiotrowska A (2013) 'The horror of a doppelganger in documentary film', New Review of Film and Television Studies, 11 (3), pp.302-313.
PublisherTaylor & Francis