Beginning with Jean-Pierre Oudarts article "La suture," (Oudart 1969, 35-47) the writers associated with Cahiers du Cinema first introduced suture into film theory. In the mid-70s, the concept began to play a major role in the theoretical discussions in Britain and North America, with the result that psychoanalytical studies of the viewing subject have proliferated. In my reading of Wings of Desire, I borrow from several theoreticians of suture, including some who have been at odds with each other concerning the scope and consequence of this concept. Although my reading of Wings of Desire certainly owes much to the French scholars, claims I make concerning Wenders film run counter to the original polemical thrust of their work. For them, suture denotes the operation by which cinema encloses the subject in ideology. Their analysis bears primarily on dominant Hollywood cinema, and they restrict the scope of the suture to the ideological effacement of the cinematic code. They are reductive as well with respect to the semiotic system of suturing, posting at times the shot/reverse-shot system or point-of-view cutting as the fundamental cinematic articulation of suture. Other French film theoreticians who complement a general semiotics of cinema with Lacanian notions of the subject and signification, such as Christian Metz and Jean-Louis Baudry, have avoided such a rigid application of suture to the cinematic apparatus and, nevertheless, have arrived at the even more pessimistic conclusion that cinema itself functions as a support and instrument of ideology. (Metz 1974, 39-47) Anglo-American film scholars have expanded on these psychoanalytical theories of cinema without sharing their negative assessment of the basic cinematic apparatus. (MacCabe 1977, 48-76)
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