Totem and Taboo in La Promesse by the Dardenne Brothers


  • Andrew Small Al Faisal University in Riyadh (Saudi Arabia)

Palabras clave:

Luc Dardenne, Jean-Pierre Dardenne, La Promesse, Freud, Totem and Taboo, Igor, Saint Igor


In a very small number of scenes all close together in La Promesse (1996), Luc and Jean-Pierre Dardenne add a strong factor of Freudian social and sexual prohibition to the plot. These scenes highlight Roger’s predatory opportunism, and Igor’s subsequent heroic character of principled action amidst chaos. The central question of Igor’s virginity is raised; this article asserts that he purposefully retains his sexual innocence, which becomes the source of strength for his adult decisions and behavior throughout the rest of the film.