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Jan-14-2010 18:41printcomments

'The Lost Embrace', Circumcision and Peace

Our writer in France reviews a movie by Daniel Burman with an unforgettable circumcision scene.

Scene from 'The Lost Embrace' by Daniel Burman
Scene from 'The Lost Embrace' by Daniel Burman

(PARIS) - Marilyn Milos (a nurse founder of the American movement NOCIRC [1] against infantile sexual mutilation) wrote me: “I would put my own body between the scalpel and the baby.”

Reproaching her son to come back home late without warning, the excessive mum of Ariel, the thirty year old or so hero of the movie, also brings her body into play, possibly because of unconscious guilt for having let him be circumcised; why else would she have taken the cake knife that she is holding out to him, saying: “Kill me!”?

With a better understanding of those responsible of the antique threat of castration (for boys) and, indirectly, excision (for girls), the young man gently ignores this discourse and puts the blame on his father, Elijah, and the rabbi.

To his father, a fighter back from Israel where he found “refuge” after divorcing his unfaithful wife, he calls out: “You cut the wee-wee of a new-born knowing that you cannot stay?!” (We should readily say: “You cut the wee-wee of a new-born, that’s why you ran away!”)

The rabbi shows him a document that has been cut with scissors and explains “This has been done so that no one can reuse it.

- “Oh! Like circumcision!”, the hero retorts.

However, the father comes back with an arm having been amputated, an escalation that strongly makes one think of “Monty Python, Holy Graal”.

Blade of the mother’s knife, edge of the father’s surgeon’s scalpel, scissors of the rabbi, icy steel in the hand of the mohel during the unbearable scene (sensitive souls, shut your eyes!) of circumcision, the knife is very present in a movie that rises up against the torturing and shameful mutilation of humans treated like fetishes, marked like the manufactured objects of the shopping arcade where our hero earns his living.

With the implacable serenity of the judge, mixed up with filial tenderness, the son opposes these castratist blades with the sharpness of a language that both condemns and forgives, deciphering and disentangling family bonds tied down in the ball and chain of multi-millennial obscurantism.

The weight of this antiquity has made sadism and torture an everyday life feature in cultures practicing circumcision: the release of the movie coincided with the scandal of torture of Iraqi prisoners by mostly circumcised (without anaesthesia) American soldiers.

We can ask ourselves whether the only difference between filming a baby’s circumcision for the family album and sending one’s friends pictures of torture does not lie in the intensity of the torture. The further sadism of the victims of the shocking mutilation thus stresses the deeply paedophobe nature of circumcision which tortures and mutilates the child in the most intimate part of his person.

Nature welcomes us in a world of lack, laying it on is really useless. There is no necessity for the abuse of power of cultures that make the individual their victim by an act of terrorism against the child. This victimization consists of losing a very erogenous, warm and protective envelope, a shelter, the house where it is good to be. Seeing one’s house being destroyed is like being chased from paradise, from the Garden of Eden, and condemned to wandering.

The lesson running all along the movie is that of indignation and revolt against violence set up as educational system. Unable to embrace his father and communicate with him, the son, without a single word, provokes him to a walk that ends up in a race of both amputated ones. The scene reminds Godard's “Breathless” as well as the 1968 motto: “Run, run, fellow, the old world is after you!”

With ingenuous but firm simplicity[2] Daniel Burman prophesies the abolition of infantile sexual mutilation, only possible alternative to the terrorist and general extermination promised by foreskin hunters who think they are chiefs (“An uncircumcised is not a man!”) by advocating the oldest crime against humanity [3], minor but outside the statute of limitations, obnoxious because it is committed against the child.

Burman's lesson goes much further since the hero spends a good part of his time trying to go back and live in his native country: Poland. Advocating the right to the return of the Jews in European countries, the film gives a solution to a conflict that tears the world apart.

[1] NOCIRC already obtained in sixteen states the cessation of reimbursement of circumcision by insurance companies and masculine infantile sexual mutilation is rapidly declining in the USA.

[2] Great award of the jury in the 2004 Berlin festival.

[3] “... torture or inhuman acts inspired by political, philosophical, racial or religious motives and organised in a concerted plan against a group of civilian population...”

This article was revised by Marilyn Milos. Learn more about her work in this area by visiting: You can write to Marilyn Milos at:


"Sigismond" (Michel Hervé Navoiseau-Bertaux) is a psychoanalysis researcher in Paris, France. A former pupil of the Psychoanalysis department of Paris VIII University, he is the author of “Sexual mutilation, the victims' point of view” Hervé is an activist dedicated to raising awareness about the dark side of circumcision, and a contributor to You can write to Hervé Navoiseau-Bertaux at this address:

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Sigismond (Michel-Hervé Navoiseau-B January 18, 2010 9:23 am (Pacific time)

Another anti-circumcision movie is Ivan Attal's " my wife is an actress" that shows a neurotic mum imposing her husband the circumcision of their son.

Sigismond January 16, 2010 7:40 am (Pacific time)

You may also see the excellent Woody Allen's "Deconstructed Harry", which briefly alludes to the non-circumcision of a circumcised father.

Michael Warrior of Love January 16, 2010 5:27 am (Pacific time)

Bravo and thank you Daniel, Marilyn, Salem News, all who worked on this film and all Intactivists out there. Great review! This film seems to tell it all and I hope it will wake up everybody in this world so these sick people deceiving liars and cruel bastards that have nothing in their heart and brain that would keep them back from sticking knives into children's healthy genitals be disabled and prosecuted. Those who promote and preach this despicable sex crime are just as guilty; they are the poisonous snakes in the Garden of Eden and shall be punished as well. Torturing and mutilating children’s genitals are the epiphany of all crimes that caused unnecessary pain and suffering, sexual frustration, fear of the other, hate and terror in this world. It becomes obvious now that most countries that have not found peace yet are the victims of circumcision and most terrorists and suicide bombers are sexually frustrated and mutilated angry young men that grew up in religions that have been misused to frustrate and enslave people with this cruelest form of sexual oppression called circumcision. May the source of all evil be eradicated in its roots world wide! May the governments and people in this world unite as they realize that the best way to fight terrorism is by forcefully ending the terror performed on children’s genitals or center of love! May our existing laws against child abuse, torture and mutilation be enforced immediately so our children are finally protected from this ancient barbaric crime!

Restoring Tally January 15, 2010 7:43 pm (Pacific time)

I must see this movie. The more the public is exposed to the harm of male circumcision, the sooner that the practice will stop.

Mary Noll January 15, 2010 5:54 pm (Pacific time)

I'm so happy to see the issue of childhood sexual mutilation (aka circumcision) being addressed in the movies. Kudos to everyone involved in getting the truth out about circumcision- it is the most vicious crime against a newborn that is still perpertrated in 'modern' and also 'primitive' society. Violence begets violence, the newborn does not forget what has happened to him.

Sigismond (Michel-Hervé Naviseau-Be January 15, 2010 7:33 am (Pacific time)

Thanks, Tim, for the magnificent photograph (Godard would be so happy for the reference to "Breathless"!).

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.

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