This footage is from an extremely rare recording of Lacan giving a lecture at Louvain University on 13th Octover 1972. As Sheerly Avni notes, the film is notable for a couple of reasons:
“1. In France, Lacan’s rock star status owed much to his popular public seminars. The charismatic iconoclast had been giving free public lectures for decades, and those lectures were usually packed with students, colleagues, skeptics, young radicals … and fans. The video gives you an idea of what the fuss was all about. Even at 70, Lacan still owns the room, and he has the presence of a stage actor, complete with dramatic pauses, ironic self-reflection, and pitch-perfect storms of emotion (see minute 15:07)
2. At minute 21:37, a politically inspired heckler tries to ambush him. It’s a moment right out of a comedy show, if the comedy show were chic and grainy and edited by Jean-Luc Goddard. Note the grace with which Lacan neutralizes the poor guy, lights his cigar and then concludes the lecture, even though the fallout from their encounter is still stuck in his hair.” (Sheerly Avni, Open Culture).
Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) came to psychoanalysis by way of medicine and psychiatry. In 1951 he turned his attention to the training of analysts, and this was one of the issues which led him and his circle to part company with the Société Psychanalytique de Paris. He became, in 1953, the first President of a new group, the Société Française de Psychanalyse, whose declared aim was a return to the true teaching of Freud. Eleven years later the Société Française was dissolved and, under Lacan’s direction, gave birth to the École Freudienne de Paris. Jacques Lacan was a practising psychoanalyst and teacher up until his death in 1981.