This blog originally appeared on April 21, 2012.
Recently a friend and I got on the subject of childhood movies and the uncanny. Sigmund Freud took up his own thinking on the uncanny in a essay from 1919 entitled The Uncanny. It is from the essay that most psychologists are familiar with Das Unheimliche. Freud makes a distinction between the heimliche (concealed) and the unheimliche (unconcealed). Freud described the phenomenon of the uncanny as a projection of the repressed id onto the figure which brings forth the discomforting experience. Here are my top 4 examples of the uncanny from familiar films.
4. Mary Poppins
There is something uncanny about the entire Mary Poppins story. This scene stands out for me as a moment of the uncanny.
3. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
I am not alone in sensing the uncanny in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. The “Child Catcher” is a particularly uncanny moment.
2. The Wizard of Oz
What is it about the Wizard of Oz that is so familiar, yet so strange?
1. La Dolce Vita
My number one moment of the uncanny is the finalé from La Dolce Vita. Fellini is a master of resonating the unconscious.