In Senso the fragmented nature of identity is established early, perhaps most emphatically in the scene where Franz and Livia walk the streets after the performance. Franz picks up a fragment of a mirror from the ground, and stares at his reflection, commenting: “I always look when i pass a mirror. It’s to affirm that i exist.”Lacan’s Mirror Stage
His desire to locate himself as an entity relates to Lacan’s psychoanalytic theory of the Mirror stage: the stage an infant passes through when becoming a subject. According to Lacan, the moment when an infant sees his reflection for the first time is an essential stage in identity formation – this is the moment at which the infant sees for the first time himself not as simply an attachment to his/her mother, a breast, etc, but as a complete, single entity.
This phase produces the ‘ideal-i’ or the self image which the subject always attempts to re-create in himself. Franz’s constant desire to “keep looking” expresses the loss of identity popularized by postmodern theorists – a breakdown in the mirror stage. Franz is ultimately unknowable and confusing to Livia, because his identity is in broken into fragments like the mirror he picks up and later discards. He cannot locate himself, and perhaps this is why he creates the false identity of the lover, the seducer, the hero, the soldier. Franz explains that his generation adopts the signifiers of identity: “Our generation are children,” and he continue, “we like wearing uniforms.”