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June 30, 2008

Quills and Artistic Freedom

Quills is the story of the Marquis de Sade struggling to retain his artistic freedom inside the walls of an insane asylum and the awful consequences of that struggle and that freedom on himself and those around him. The film is directed by Philip Kaufman, best known for his remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978 and his adaptation of The Unbearable Lightness of Being from 1988.The Screenplay is by Doug Wright and is adapted from his stage play of the same name. Quills was nominated for three Oscars, Geoffrey Rush was nominated for his performance as the Marquis and the film was up for Art Direction and Costume design.
The film deals with how portrayals of sexuality in art can be both useful and damaging, depending on how they are portrayed and depending on their audiences. In the scene I have chosen, the Marquis has decided to alter the originally scheduled play (a la Hamlet) to put on a new play, of his own composition, that lampoons the tyrannical new doctor (played by Michael Caine). The doctor has just taken a wife in an arranged marriage, and it is the general belief of the townspeople that she is much too young for him. A few scenes earlier, the doctor is shown forcing her into her new “nightly duty� as a wife. The Marquis creates an overly sexualized satire that ridicules the doctor’s non-consensual sexual advances. The play, however, creates unforeseen backstage consequences which call the Marquis’ methods into question.

The Scene Begins with a wide, establishing shot:
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The scene is set within the asylum, and it shows. The walls are stone and lit by torches. The theatre troupe has attempted to dress things up with red curtains hanging from a dowel rod, but the room still feels eerie and dungeon-like. The stage is not a traditional, square shape, but it is instead a phallic, “thrust stage� which enters the room through the vaginal opening of the twin red curtains. This establishes the scene for the sexual antics to come.
The Marquis is introduced and we are given access to the backstage area. We first see him from behind:
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A reverse shot shows him from the front.
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The Marquis dresses himself in white. This is due to his own, self-perceived sense of purity. He sees himself as the defender of personal liberty and free expression, and can see no fault in his work, even when it leads others to commit horrendous acts.
We then pan the audience for their various reactions.
His wife sits austerely as those around her show surprise:
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She wears dark colors, a red cloak and a dark dress. She has no delusions of purity. She has not been living in the insulated world of the asylum, and due to her husband’s actions, she has been outcast by society. Her clothes and somber manner reflect this.
The doctor and his wife, who are about to be lampooned, are shown:
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The sinister doctor is dressed in black to show his dark nature. He is also shown on the left side of the frame, in the traditional villain position. His young wife is in white to show her actual purity and is placed on the right.
The Marquis comes out to take his extravagant bow with quill in hand, marking him as the writer:
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The doctor looks progressively more and more displeased. While The Abbey, the Marquis’ defender, looks more and more uncomfortable:
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Backstage, the actors are pushed through the scarlet opening onto the stage:
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The young bride was brought up, as a child, in a nunnery. This adds to the taboo of the upcoming sexual encounter with the doctor. The young bride is shown riding behind the nun, in the submissive position of a follower:
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A cut brings the audience closer, from the wide shot into a medium two-shot. It now becomes apparent that the girl is holding a religious statue. This both shows her piety and also her youth, in that she clutches it like a doll:
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The double for the doctor is introduced:
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He looks incredibly devious, lit from below and crouching in the corner of the frame.
The real doctor is not impressed:
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A shot reverse shot, shows him exchanging looks with the wickedly entertained Marquis:
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Onstage, the young bride tries to avoid the doctors sexual advances, she tries to run to the other side of the bed, but is taken down by force:
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The real young bride is amused:
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Her husband is not, and has her removed from the theatre against her will:
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The atmosphere behind the actual doctor and his wife is much darker than that surrounding the stage, or anywhere else in the theatre for that matter. This suggests the ominous aura surrounding these characters.
Back on stage, the antics get more explicit:
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But the young wife’s bonnet also falls off to reveal the actor’s bald head:
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This detracts from any sense of realism the farce may have had. It removes it from the real world and firmly establishes it as a silly fantasy. The audience’s response is a mix of delight and horror, but it is important to note that the response is the same, across gender lines:
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Backstage, Maddy (Played by Kate Winslet) tells the actors that they will all be needed on stage for the big finale:
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As she pushes them out through the curtains, a reverse shot shows the leering eyes of one of the inmates:
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It has already been established earlier in the film, that the inmate is attracted to Maddy and has trouble controlling his sexual urges. Now that the other actors are on stage, he has her alone:
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She is shown in white, again to express purity, framed against the red drapes which signal the upcoming violence.
The show goes on:
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And Maddy watches intently:
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Unaware of what approaches from behind:
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The audience is then given a point of view shot from the inmate. The camera switches to hand held and moves steadily closer to Maddy, heightening the suspense.
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The shallow depth of field in the reverse close-up of Maddy makes it impossible to see the inmate behind her until his two hands begin to creep up the sides of her face:
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And she is taken in a blur:
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The inmate pins her over a stove. The red fires in the front of the frame bring the passion and violence into the foreground.
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On stage, the antics continue, now making a funhouse mirror reflection of the attempted rape in the back room.
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We see the roaring audience. The noise is escalating in order to cover Maddy’s screams.
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The shots switch to close up to intensify the drama, both in the back room, and on stage:
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Just in the nick of time, Maddy sees the opportunity for her release:
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The stunned inmate stumbles out onto the stage, interrupting the show:
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The fun stops abruptly as the people see the consequences of portraying sexual assault as farce:
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The Abbey runs to comfort Maddy and to assure her safety. Their dramatic reunion is shown in a tight close up.
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The Marquis emerges to defend himself:
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He does not receive the sympathy of a close up. He is shot in extreme long shot. He insists, "It's only a play", absolving himself of any responsibility for causing the backstage assault. The audience gives him a mixed reaction: some applaud, others boo.
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Clearly some of the audience condones his actions, some of them do not.
This scene gets to the heart of many of the core debates of feminism including intentionality, the portrayals of women and sexuality in art, and audience responses. The Marquis wrote the play as a fantastic work of satire and fantasy. He did not intend for anyone in the audience to act out the event portrayed. He sees his work as a farce, and as such, as a harmless bit of fun. However, he does not take into account the various interpretations that can be made of his work by the audience. The inmate sees the play, which depicts sexual assault as humorous, as normalizing that behavior. An assault happens on stage and he sees that the audience, as well as Maddy herself, enjoys watching it. He concludes therefore that rape is a socially acceptable course of action.
For the Marquis, this type of reasoning is ludicrous. As the author, he believes he has imbued the text with a very specific meaning, or intention. Alternate readings, to him seem both irrelavant and illogical. This type of closure of meaning and belief in intentionality represent what Annette Kuhn terms the "masculine" type of discourse (Passionate Detachment, 11). The tradgedy of the Marquis is that he remains devoted to this system of thinking. He idealizes himself as the defender of free expression, even though that expression furnishes tragic ends for both himself and those around him.

The Door in the Floor

The Door in the Floor, directed by Todd Williams is a story of the dissolution of a marriage a couple of years fallowing the death of their children. The story touches on grief, cooping methods and needs associated with the loss of a loved one through the eyes of a mother, father, and a young child. The story specifically focuses on the mother’s inability to care for her young child and affair she has with a young man that looks eerily like her deceased son. The story is set in current times with the breezy back drop of Easthampton New York .The movie was released in 2004 and is the second film directed and written by Williams. He was nominated for an independent spirit award for best screenplay and won a special recognition award from the national board of reviews in addition to other nominations for the film according to Internet Movie Database.

The Door in the Floor, directed by Todd Williams is a story of the dissolution of a marriage a couple of years fallowing the death of their children. The story touches on grief, cooping methods and needs associated with the loss of a loved one through the eyes of a mother, father, and a young child. The story specifically focuses on the mother’s inability to care for her young child and affair she has with a young man that looks eerily like her deceased son. The story is set in current times with the breezy back drop of Easthampton New York .The movie was released in 2004 and is the second film directed and written by Williams. He was nominated for an independent spirit award for best screenplay and won a special recognition award from the national board of reviews in addition to other nominations for the film according to Internet Movie Database.
This scene come from the chapter “Things breaking Apart� in which Marion has made the decision to leave her husband, her child, and her summer lover Eddie. This is juxtaposed with Marion’s husband Ted being confronted by an extremely angry woman he hired under the pretences of sketching but in actuality has seduced and drawn numerous sketches of nude. This film explores the gaze in relation to male and female roles and the power that is attained through being looked at and looking. In Visual pleasure and narrative cinema Laura Mulvey writes
“In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure, which is styled accordingly.�

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The scene starts with a close up of the two lead males it has the soft colors and natural light given to help show the earthy naturalness of the Hamptons in the summer. We see the two lead males departing to face their separate women.

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Eddie knows that Marion is planning to leave him and everyone she loves the feeling of loneliness is scene though the use of open wide shots and empty framed spaces through the scene.

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The tension felt thought the two male leads is seen in this last look Eddie gives Ted before he leaves, Eddie is trapped between is love for Marion and the fact that she is Ted’s husband.

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The scene then cuts to Marion, it is slow dolly scene that pulls out, this fits with Marion’s passive female role in relation to her family but also the sexual power she has over Eddie to get him to help her leave.

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We see this slow pull out over the should of Eddie, Marion’s lover and some one she has power over through her ability to allow his to lust after her. Marion’s colors and the room fit well with the light sea color palette the film incorporates with the setting.

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Through the scene Marion never once looks at her self in the mirror instead Eddie is the one to gaze at her though the mirror and also her physical self. This represents Marion’s ability to give herself to Eddie physically, for her benefit. But unable to show anyone her true self, she can’t even look in the mirror.

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The camera now cuts to a slow dolly shot being pulled in. Marion is leaving her daughter and Eddie for good and the shot helps to build the desired level of tension. Marion’s daughter is wearing a red dress and signifies her love and heart that she is letting go.

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Marion is caught in the middle of the only people that she truly will miss. She has been trapped and is now leaving.

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Marion took the role of passive female and allowed Eddie lust and seduce her, she has now taken back that control and is using it to leave.

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We see another shot of open space and an empty frame where Marion should be but is not for Ruth.

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This is an image of Marion in an arch and than gone from the frame with Eddie mirrors the one with Ruth. This expresses Marion’s departure from their lives.

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We are now brought back to Ted and the women that he has had control over though objectifying her and using her sexually under the pretense of art. The house and color of Mrs. Vaughn are sharp and black to expose her character as someone in contrast to the eccentric Ted.

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This scene uses a hand held camera and many cuts to help create the fast paced chase scene and also to contrast the previous scene with Eddie and Marion.

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The shots are short and choppy and help contrast the Gaze and power Ted used over Mrs. Vaugh to the innocent power and gaze Marion allowed Eddie to have over her.

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Ted is running from the male objectifying gaze that has gotten him in trouble and now is reaching the beach, the colors are washed out and natural, many shades of gray and browns.

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Mulvey writes that the “the conscious aim being to always eliminate intrusive camera presence and prevent a distancing awareness in the audience.� The camera works in these wide angles to give the viewer an unobtrusive look at lives of these people. An ability to commiserate and feel what they feel with out realizing one is watching a movie.

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This scene uses long open shots as well as close ups and has a very stark color difference from the first scene with Marion, the colors here are just various shades of black and white to expose the power shift.

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Again we have a wide sweeping camera angle as Ted sees Mrs. Vaugh continue to chase him and now the power has certainly shifted to her in a physical form as well a physiologically.

This story uses the gaze in seemingly different ways through the story and
As a way of propelling the plot further. We have Ted who gazes at women to seduce them sexually. We have Eddie who longingly gazes at Marion who in turn gives her self to him sexually. In this pivotal scene we are seeing the effects of Ted womanizing Mrs. Vaughn, and her realizing the objectification. Marion using the power of being in eddies gaze to get him to do what she wants. This scene shows the power associated with being looked at and looking. The power that each male and female gaze holds and ability to use that power and reverse the power for individualized agency.

Marie Antoinette as feminist counter-cinema

Marie Antoinette (2006) is a film based upon the book “Marie Antoinette: The Journey� by historian Antonia Fraser. Sofia Coppola both directed the film and adapted Fraser’s biography for the screenplay. Coppola is the third woman (and first American woman) to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing, for her film Lost in Translation (2003). Milena Canonero won the Academy Award for Achievement in Costume Design for Marie Antoinette. The film stars Kirsten Dunst as the Austrian-turned-French princess Antoinette, and Jason Shwartzman as King Louis XVI. Rip Torn, Molly Shannon, Steve Coogan and Marianne Faithful all co-star. The movie was filmed almost entirely in France, around Paris and Versailles, where the real French monarchs lived and breathed over 200 years ago.

Marie Antoinette is the story of a young princess thrust into a role she doesn’t understand and forced to conform to a life she didn’t choose. Her frustration with her situation leads her to rebel in various ways, causing her to project a negative image in the eyes of the French people in the midst of a countrywide revolution. The film is controversial because it portrays Antoinette sympathetically, as a product of her surroundings, whereas historically she has been an icon of bourgeois materialism and poor leadership. For this reason, the film was allegedly booed at Cannes.

In her article Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, Laura Mulvey explores the different gazes within film,

“that of the camera as it records the pro-filmic event, that of the audience as it watches the final product, and that of the characters at each other within the screen illusion� (47).
She describes the “male gaze� common to several films made in the “classic� Hollywood period. In discussion of how to create a new gaze, She articulates,

“However self-conscious and ironic Hollywood managed to be, it always restricted itself to a formal mise-en-scene reflecting the dominant ideological concept of the cinema. The alternative cinema provides a space for a cinema to be born which is radical in both a political and an aesthetic sense and challenges the basic assumptions of the mainstream film. This is not to reject the latter moralistically, but to highlight the ways in which its formal preoccupations reflect the psychical obsessions of the society which produced it, and, further, to stress that the alternative cinema must start specifically by reacting against these obsessions and assumptions. A politically and aesthetically avant-garde cinema is now possible, but it can still only exist as a counterpoint.� (36).

In the film Marie Antoinette, director Coppola is taking Mulvey’s ideas for a new avant-garde cinema. She creates a true post-Mulvey, post-classic avant-garde piece, one that questions the male gaze and creates an entirely new form of identifying and gazing amidst techniques that break with cinematic tradition.
The film is ultimately about Antoinette—she is the character with whom we identify, her gaze is most important (aside from our own, as the audience). In making Antoinette and her desires the focus of the film, Coppola is giving us a female protagonist, and a film that's a true embodiment of feminist counter-cinema.

The scene I chose to analyze is one in which Antoinette convinces a friend and her husband to attend a masked ball in Paris (they go in disguise). It is at this ball where Antoinette meets a man who she'll have sexual interest in later, a contrast to her husband, who has yet not shown any sexual interest in Antoinette (nor she him).

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The first shot of this scene is a tracking camera shot that slowly follows Marie Antoinette and her ladies-in-waiting while they descend the stairs at an enormous masked ball. In the background, the first chords of an upbeat song are playing—they are string instruments, suggesting that the music could be from the period of the film, but the beat is extremely fast. The view of the ladies is omniscient—no one in particular is gazing at the women, rather their entrance goes relatively unnoticed. The camera and the viewers’ gazes are at play throughout most of the scene, with a much less employed “male gaze�. The women wear elaborate ball gowns and small masks on their faces. In the making-of-featurette, director Coppola comments that the scene reminds her of a “super-hero ball�, with the colors and masks. By making these historical figures evocative of super heroes, Coppola is playing with references and teasing the viewer, an unusual tool in a period piece. This is one of the ways in which Coppola is helping to foster an avant-garde vision.

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The next shot depicts a dance floor filled with people, who appear at the first explosion of words in the music playing in the background. A string arrangement has been added onto 1980’s band Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Hong Kong Garden�, allowing the women to enter the ball backed by string music, but unfolding the entire scene to an eighties pop song. Again, the view is omniscient.

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The next shots follow Antoinette and her friend while they weave through the crowd amongst dancers, pushing some aside as they giggle to one another. This helps to solidify the fact that this scene is ultimately about these women, about their experience at the ball. The shot is less about a gaze than it is about seeing whose story is most important here. It’s about these women more than it is about the men who might find them attractive at this ball.

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This shot is a close-up of the women snaking through the crowd, inviting us in to their experience, making the relationship between viewer and characters more intimate.

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The next shot appears from the point of view of Marie Antoinette as she makes her way through the crowd. We’re now as close as we can get to her- we share her very gaze. This is a literal example of how the viewer is meant to identify with Miss Antoinette.

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The next shot depicts the giggling women again, from above. Our perspective is frequently switched between close-ups and distance shots of the women, establishing our interest in their activities and allowing us to see them both from the ground and from above.

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The next several shots depict partygoers. The series shows various guests enjoying themselves, without any discrimination over who is shown (more specifically, what gender they might be). This first shot is of a masked man with a glass of champagne.

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These partygoers are flirting, suggesting romantic intrigue. This is indicative of the romantic intrigue that interests Antoinette in this scene.

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Another shot frames two friends giggling. Again, this seems to be a suggestion that the scene is a “girly� ball.

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The next shot is a sudden cut to Antoinette’s Husband, Louis XVI, and a stranger, on a balcony. The stranger learns that the masked guest (secretly the prince) lives at Versailles, and drunkenly asks about whether or not the “prince� has “deflowered� Antoinette. The prince, who has been entirely non-sexual with the princess up to this point, is uncomfortable, and walks away after the guest lewdly comments that he would “love to do it�. These shots and dialogue pose a sharp contrast to the rest of the scene. It is highlighted that the prince himself does not exert a sexual gaze onto Antoinette, so she is free of his gaze for a large portion of the film. The guests’ sexual interest, however, adds a touch of the male gaze to Antoinette, and we now have a new way of looking at her. Our gazes are dual- we see from her perspective, we identify with her, but we see a bit of male interest as well.

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The next shot pans from right to left over several dancing partygoers, landing finally on a couple that is about to kiss, again adding romantic intrigue to the scene.

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The next shot depicts Antoinette and her friend after the Siouxsee and The Banshees song has ended and the dancers have bowed to one another. A new song begins in the background, and it’s another 80’s pop song- “Aphrodesiac� by Bow Wow Wow. They are gossiping, and are focusing on their own conversation. We only partially see Antoinette’s face, giving her relative privacy from the audience-spectator.

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The next shot depicts a young man talking to a woman, but intermittently turning to look at Antoinette and her friend. Coppola again interjects a male gaze here—though Antoinette’s gaze is our primary concern, it is paired with the gaze of this male character.
Neither women can see his look—the audience only is privileged with his gaze upon the women. Since the camera is in place of the women and they are not even visible, it is as if the man is staring at us, the audience, implicating us in place of Antoinette and her friend. Our gaze is also employed here, as we can stare at this man from afar without any repercussions.

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Antoinette gets a close-up, tight shot when her friend says “ooh�, upon noticing the man staring at them. This tight shot moves the focus to Antoinette herself, again emphasizing that it is she we are to keep interest in, she that is implied in this romantic intrigue. Her friend notes, “look at that sword! I’d like to see what he could do with that.� This innuendo adds to the sexual gaze the women are exerting upon the man.

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The next shot is a closer, tighter shot of the man, still staring at us/Antoinettte. The intensity of the situation rises as the camera goes closer and closer to the man and Antoinette. Antoinette and her friend giggle, interested in this man’s interest, here coupling his sexual gaze with their own. They decide to “pretend to be having a great time�, to get his further attention.

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Here we get an even more intimate close-up of Antoinette, while the right side of her face out of the light, amidst secretive shadow. We are put in place of her friend, making us the audience her close confidante.

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There is a series of shot-reverse shots of the man and Antoinette, until finally he breaks off his conversation and approaches the women. Antoinette’s friend departs to leave the two alone. We see the man approach from behind Antoinette, again putting us in her shoes. We see his approach as she would see it. It is only his flirtatious face and dapper shirt that we see up close.

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They now enter into an intimate conversation. We see them coyly talking to each other, from the point of view of the addressee. There is a series of shot-reverse shots during this conversation, privileging us with the point of view of both parties. The camera stays at a static distance during their conversation, until Antoinette is about to turn away without revealing who she is to the man she learns is named “Count Thurson�.

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Antoinette turns to leave without revealing her identity, and we get a close-up of Count Thurson’s face as he looks down at Antoinette’s body.

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The next shot is of the Count’s hand grabbing Antoinette’s arm. Both of their bodies are implicated in the frame, and he’s nearly predatory towards her.

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Antoinette looks down at the hand grabbing her arm, but appears to be enjoying it. Again, we’re faced with the fact that Antoinette is physically interested in this man, that his physical lust towards her may match her own towards him.

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The next shot shows a close-up of the Count’s face as he watches Antoinette leave. We can see his own gaze, yet at the same time we are gazing at him, not only as spectators but as a sexual object on Antoinette’s behalf.

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In the next shot, we watch Antoinette from behind, at once put in the position of the Count.

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In the next shot, we see a close-up of Antoinette’s face as she walks up the stairs, away from the Count. We the audience are privileged with the information that Antoinette is giddy, and happy at this romantic tryst. We share in this giddy excitement, up close with her.


In Marie Antoinette, we focus on a female protagonist. This alone gives Antoinette a certain air of countercinema. By making Antoinette the most important character (and the one the audience is meant to identify with), Coppola challenges dominant cinema. She adds avant-garde touches to her film by making a period piece set to modern music, infused with contemporary, overt sexual ideas. The film does not embody a male gaze, but instead employs dual male and female sexual gazes.

To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar

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To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar is about three drag queens who travel to Hollywood after two of them tie for a New York City drag queen of the year award. The third drag queen is brought along because she is such a failure of a drag queen (being referred to as a drag “princess� because of her inexperience) and is found by the two winning drag queens, crying on the stairs after the ceremony is over. The three of them hop in an old Cadillac car and drive from New York to Los Angeles. However, on the way they break down in a small town named Snyderville where they are extremely out of place. They are stuck there for the weekend, until a car part comes in, and during that time take the towns people by surprise. The drag queens are also taken by surprise by the townspeople when stand up to a homophobic Sheriff hunting for perverted drag queens. In the end they develop bonds with the townspeople and leave a lasting impression on each other. They say their goodbyes and hop into their fixed car, but not before turning the towns lackluster strawberry social into a red and wild themed party. They make it in time for the Drag Queen of America Pageant, where Julie Newmar crowns; to no surprise, the once failure of a drag queen as the winner; as she has now learned the four lessons of becoming a drag queen in the process of the road trip.
The film was released in 1995 by Universal Pictures and produced by Amblin Entertainment. The director is a woman named Beban Kidron and the film was written by Douglas Beane. The three drag queens are well known actors, Wesley Snipes as “Noxeema Jackson�, Patrick Swayze as “Vida Boheme� and John Leguizamo as “Chi-Chi Rodriguez�. The film was shot in New York and in Nebraska.

The theory used in critically reading this filmic construction comes from Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema�. She outlines three “looks� or “gazes� in cinema (p. 47).
1. The gaze of the camera (constructed by the director)
2. The gaze of the actors on screen (with themselves, one another, the camera, etcetera)
3. The gaze of the audience or spectator (watching the interaction between the camera and the actors on screen)
The “male gaze� is commonly the male/audience/camera looking at the woman as object, in To Wong Foo the “gaze� is intentionally constructed for the audience to be looking at biological men constructing themselves as being seen as women; a performance of female gender by biologically male gendered actors.

The gaze here is of:

1. The audience and camera watching as a “male gaze� at biological men constructing their own female gender performance.
2. The biological men as a “male gaze� looking at themselves constructing and being part of their own female gender performance.
3. The audience and camera watching the reaction and “gaze� of these biological men constructing their own female gender performance.

There is a huge emphasis of the body as male during these following scenes, even while the visual change is of a transformation through makeup, padding and attire, etcetera, the muscles of the men and the body shape are still evident and distinctly remaining masculine and strongly male.

In this shot Patrick Swayze steps out of the shower, the emphasis is on his muscles and nude male body. The gaze of the camera and audience is looking him up and down as he is only partially covered by a towel. The lighting brings to focus the rippling muscles of Patrick, the body is still outlined by the light through the towel.

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This is an over the shoulder shot, bringing into focus the toned upper body of Patrick. The lighting is pretty much entirely focused again on his build. The gaze here is of Patrick looking at himself in the mirror at his own reflection. The audience is seeing this along with their own gaze at Patrick and his body.

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This shot is using three mirrors as a gaze passing to the right. This shows a process of Patrick turning into Vida Boheme. The lighting is much softer and is focusing now on the face.

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This is a very close shot, where the actor is looking directly at the camera and audience. The lighting is still warm and soft, showing the application of makeup on the skin and the slight glistening in the eye.

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This is a fast cut to Noxeema at the same point of transformation. The shot is a little bit farther out, but the gaze is brought away from the camera and back to the believed mirror. The lighting is not as illuminating in this shot, but the framing is still close up with the forehead and nose cut off somewhat.

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This is a pan to the left bringing the audiences eyes to the mirror that was being looked at in the previous shot. The camera zooms out to show Noxeema framed in the center, with two lamps to the side, re-enforcing the importance of the character and the focus. The lighting is illuminating the body here, but also the background with the two lamps.

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Quick cut bringing the view back to the side, with a tighter frame, cutting off the top of the head a little bit. The lighting is focusing on the powder being slapped onto the face. The shot in real time is slowed down to be in sync with the music’s introduction of the beat. There is an introduction of red in the background. This is an important color in the movie.

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Now Vida is making direct eye contact with the camera and audience. This is an extremely close shot with the nose and forehead cut off, as well as the sides of the cheeks. The lighting is in the pupils of the eyes and on the sides of the face. Previous to this shot Vida is batting her eyelashes at the camera.

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Cuts to Noxeema, not as close of a shot, and there is more lighting on the face, especially on the eyelashes and the pupils. The gaze is directly at the camera and audience, with a raised eyebrow versus a batting of the eyelashes.

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An over the shoulder shot of Noxeema shirtless, accentuating the muscular build. The gaze is of Noxeema to her reflection and of the audience partaking in this exchange as well.

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Shot showing very masculine feet, with heels in the background and low tops to the left. The robe contains red, and the shot is brought all the way up the body.

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The lighting again focuses on the muscular build of Noxeema, and the bright attire in the background. The gaze is to the left of the audience and camera, perhaps to the next step in getting ready.

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As is Noxeema is looking at herself getting ready, the camera cuts to Noxeema putting on stockings. Notice the red fabric on the bed, bringing the eyes focus to the legs, the lighting helps in doing this.

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Cuts to a shot looking down on Vida in the same process of putting on stockings, the lighting brings to focus ripples in muscles. The position of the body here is not upright, and seems less mascline, like the shot before.

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After putting on red shoes, Noxeema kicks her heels in the air, a non-masculine gesture.

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Cuts to above shot looking down the bust of Noxeema. The corsette is red and is still being buttoned. The gaze is again of looking at Noxeema, looking at her body, the audience/camera looking down her bust.

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A gaze into the mirror by Vida. Looking at the lightings definition of muscles. Something to notice in the background is a woman on a poster, in similar pose, gaze, and hand position, but in reverse direction.

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Cut to close view, side shot of Noxeema adjusting corsette. Hands look large, not petite and hand is cupping the breasts for quite some time in this shot.

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Extreme close view of Noxeema applying lip liner, the stubble on the face are outlined here and in focus.

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Side view, extreme close up of Vida’s lips. Glossy and Red, lighting is on top lip and slightly on bottom. Notice the teeth are shown here, lips are parted slightly. The gaze is only for the audience.

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Shot has moved back significantly. Here Noxeema is throwing back her hair as she puts on her wig. The eyes are closed here again, the gaze is for the first time just at Noxeema, not with Noxeema looking at self. The muscles again are highlighted in definition through lighting.

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Vida is looking directly at camera and audience, seemingly at self in mirror, with a gaze of awe and beauty. Look at the hands lingering on the face and hair. In this shot, the muscles are not accentuated or flexed, the shoulders are covered by the lingering hands.

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Noxeema dressed in complete attire. Arms at side and knees bent in strange stance. The muscles for the first time are covered by hair and boa. The gaze involves two mirrors. The right mirror gaze is looking at the almost center gaze, which is looking at Noxeema looking at herself, with audience engaging in multiple gazes.

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After spinning in circles looking at self in mirror, Vida stops to look at self. First time that she is taken at such a wide angle from the side. Includes entire attire, which is purple and now the poster in the back resembles Vida even more. This is a frame within a frame.

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Cuts to close shot looking up at Chi-Chi, who looks like a mess. Her face is very pale and her makeup around the eyes is very dark. There is little to no lighting in the back.

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Camera pans out as she walks, and then falls behind as she runs. This image shows some sort of class difference. Notice the graffiti in the back, along with the harassment that she is taking, hence her running.

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Cuts to Webster Hall, which stands out in white spot lighting. Red background and lots of people filling the frame. Vida and Noxeema meet and embrace, then send kisses and waves to the crowd.

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Cuts to tight shot with multiple drag queens getting makeup and hair ready in mirror, which is divided in three. There are multiple gazes here, including the reflection of drag queens looking at themselves and at other drag queens. The lighting is very harsh here and coming from above.

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Cuts to Chi-Chi running down the stairs, multiple stair cases. Purple background is continued. Chi-Chi looks down at camera and audience. The camera follows Chi-Chi around the corners, closing in on the gaze.

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Last shot of the scene, closes in on Chi-Chi who is now prepared. For the first time we see the full attire and wig. Large black shadow behind Chi-Chi. Also the stairs are pushing the space towards the wall. Very little lighting and the focus is not on Chi-Chi anymore, but is on what is coming.

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The films use of color is used mostly to show the characteristics of each actor. The color red has significance because at the end of the movie all of the townspeople come to stand up to the Sheriff in red. It is also the “Red and Wild� Strawberry festival in town at the time. The use of lighting shows what should be looked at, as well as the framing and view shown to the audience by the camera. The film is about the expression of gender and performativity for these three drag queens, and the effects and freedom that this has on a small town touched by them, as well as the effect is has on their personal growth as drag queens and as humans. The films message during these scenes is about gazes along with the construction and performance of gender. This is an introduction to the audience about the transformation of these men into drag queens, what it takes to do this, and the end result. There is also a viewed reaction by each drag queen surrounding their experience. This is done with the use of mirrors and assumed mirrors when actors are looking into the distance.

"Does that mean you're about to have one?"



In October 2006 writer/director John Cameron Mitchell's Shortbus, set in New York City, was released to elated audiences and critics. John Cameron Mitchell, the producers, the art director, and the ensemble cast were nominated for and won numerous awards. The script was a collaborative effort between the writer/director and the entire cast. With the taglines "You've got to get on to get off," "Voyeurism is Participation," and "Open Your Mind. And Everything Else," it is immediately easy to get some idea of the content. As the official website states, Shortbus "explores the lives of several emotionally challenged characters as they navigate the comic and tragic intersections between love and sex in and around a modern-day underground salon [called Shortbus]." It isn't simply about sex and the display thereof-- it's about honest connections all tangled up with, as the site puts it, "new ways to reconcile questions of the mind, pleasures of the flesh and imperatives of the heart."

Sofia (seen above), played by Sook-Yin Lee, is a sex therapist who has never had an orgasm. As shown above, her first exposure to the ongoing orgy of Shortbus (the place, not the movie) makes her pretty uncomfortable. It is through her character, then, that we see the most advancement of the themes of sexual liberation and self-acceptance.

The last sequence of the movie provides closure by displaying a landmark for Sofia. This exemplifies Shortbus's position, akin to the countercinema described by Laura Mulvey as "radical in both a political and an aesthetic sense." It also heavily utilizes the different gazes described by Laura Mulvey in "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema."

At the beginning of the film's last sequence, Sofia enters Shortbus framed by flowing red curtains. They are both part of the sexually suggestive decor of Shortbus, and a reminder of Sofia's intense search for an orgasm. They help create a very tight frame around her which suggests that, in part, her cage is comprised of her frantic effort to cum-- she is trying too hard. Finally, though, she has let her hair down and is apparently ready to let go and let loose. She is almost perfectly centered in a medium shot, taking up very little of the frame. For a moment, the camera and the viewer gaze at her, completely worn out and ready to give up on her quest. She then takes part in a series of looks: first with two "sextras" (official Shortbus terminology for extras), a trans-masculine character who looks too much like JT from Le Tigre and his girlfriend, a woman of color-- two important mirrors of sexual freedom for Sofia; next with her boyfriend, Rob, and the dominatrix Severin; and finally with Leah and Nick, "the Beautiful Couple."

Leah and Nick then move to sit on either side of Sofia. She is at first apprehensive, but then catches a voyeuristic glimpse of a hot couple making out.

Sofia isn't the only one watching. As it always does in Shortbus, the lovefest quickly spreads.

Sofia realizes that Rob is watching, and it spreads some more. These quick cuts build the energy of the scene by passing looks between a lot of people and reflecting back to their connections throughout the story. Severin, who has in the past resisted such connections but grown in her relationship with Sofia, appears to be watching it all.

Shots of voyeurs in the act confirm the film's insistence that "voyeurism is participation." True to this theme, everyone really starts participating. These shots are all composed in ways in which the viewer is practically forced to voyeuristically consume them. Everything gets a little darker as the frame becomes tighter and tighter on the rising action, the energy jumping out of the screen.

Shortbus has raised debates that often involve the word pornography. Is this pornography? Is this art? The film culminates in final shots of Sofia experiencing her first orgasm. The camera cuts away to an extreme closeup of her face, suddenly illuminated.

John Cameron Mitchell has said that all but one of the orgasms in the film are real. How many female porn stars have real orgasms on camera? Which orgasm is the fake one in this case-- Sofia's at the beginning or the end, perhaps? Is this exploitative? Does this effect the film's status along the porn/art line? Does any of that change the radical convention-breaking of such a widely released art house film?

Sofia follows her bliss and the screen fades to white,

then the whole city explodes with this passion and is lit up by the energy created.

This series of events reminds me of the interrelatedness of being. To sum it up, a lot of Buddhists like Thich Nhat Hanh speak of everything "being" in relation to everything else. Another way to say it is: everything "is" is relation to everything else. Shortbus visually conveys this by suggesting that the city of New York is literally powered by Sofia's first orgasm. Though it may not always be well received, this sex-positive message is totally worth getting out there if it causes some eruption for even one person.

Finally, the city lights spin out into black, suggesting the larger scope of personally reclaiming sexuality for everyone everywhere.

Patriarchy Labyrinth

Pan's Labyrinth was directed by Guillermo del Toro and released in theaters in late 2006. It tells the story of a young Ofelia who discovers a labyrinth near her new home in Navarra, Spain, where she and her mother moved to live with her stepfather, Captain Vidal, in 1944, according to moviefone.com. The film won 3 Academy Awards, including Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, and Best Makeup, and also won the Webby and People's Choice awards for Best Movie and Best Film, according to the film's website, http://www.panslabyrinth.com/

In the film, I believe Ofelia (along with the other women characters) are constantly controlled by patriarchy, which is defined as a a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it, according to www.encyclopedia.com. I believe this is emphasized through the shots themselves and the inclusion of the male gaze, which in this case is Kaplan's in-text gaze (as she describes it in her article "Part II: Feminist Theoretical Models") where the men characters gaze at the women characters, thus making the women the objects of the male gaze.

The scene I chose to analyze is the arrival of Ofelia and her mother (Carmen) to their new home in Navarra.

This first shot is of Captain Vidal's hand holding a watch. This immediately gives him control over time and the world in which patriarchy rules. The watch is also a reference to the story of a Captain who crushed his watch when he died so his son would know exactly when his heroic father was killed (a story reinforcing patriarchy). Vidal's hand is clad in a black leather glove, symbolizing his high class and his dark intentions.

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The next shot shows Vidal looking into the distance. He is shown in his military garb, giving him a position of power and authority.

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The next shot establishes the male gaze. Here the viewer sees what Vidal sees, which is the approach of Ofelia and Carmen.

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Now, Ofelia and Carmen have officially arrived in the military base (aka the patriarchal society of the film).

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This shot further enforces the image of the patriarchal society. Vidal is in the middle of the shot, and is in front of everyone else, making him the most powerful person in the shot. In the background, there are more male figures than females, showing that men outnumber (and potentially overpower) the women in this world.

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Here, Carmen begins to get out of the car. She looks as though she is bowing down to Vidal, surrendering any power she may posses.

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Vidal takes Carmen’s hand, and it is almost as though he takes control of her. She is wearing a white blouse, which shows her innocence and purity, but it is covered by the grey jacket she has to wear upon her arrival to her new home. Also, the car puts her in her own frame.

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As the film develops, the viewer learns that Vidal only cares about the wellbeing of his son neither Ofelia nor Carmen) and this is shown with his hand rubbing Carmen’s pregnant stomach. Patriarchy is enforced by Vidal’s longing for a son to carry on his family name and pride.

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Vidal looks satisfied as he gazes at Carmen, glad that the mother of his son made it to the base safely.

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Vidal insists that Carmen use a wheelchair to get around the base. The is a soldier and a doctor standing next to the chair, enforcing the patriarchal society and encouraging Carmen to completely rely on men.

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Here, Carmen protests, but Vidal is clearly in control of the scene, as his face is starting to enter Carmen’s world, and she looks as though she is pushed to the edge of the shot.

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Vidal reinforces his control by being within site and having a soldier stand behind him.

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Vidal has taken over Carmen’s world, and has made her sit passively and powerless in his own world.

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Now, it’s on to Ofelia. She clearly doesn’t want to get out of the car. However, the patriarchal society, now including her mother, outbalances her in the frame.

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Vidal once again shows his authority, being surrounded by the soldier and the doctor, and standing tall above Ofelia.

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Ofelia starts to come out of her world where it was just her mother and her.

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Ofelia offers up a hand to Vidal; an introductory handshake to patriarchy.

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Vidal crushes her pale hand (innocent, pure) with his black leather glove (evil), showing he has the power in this world.


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Vidal calls to Mercedes, one of the women who works at the base. She has her hair up and is wearing neutral clothing, which shows her lower class and her position as a working woman.

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Here, the male gaze is truly embodied. Vidal and his soldier look at Mercedes as he summons her to him. His closeness to the camera emphasizes his power.


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Ofelia in turn watches Vidal, and is still reluctant to fully enter the base.

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Ofelia finally gets out of the car and looks down at the ground, feeling helpless to her situation. Mercedes observes from afar.

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Ofelia gets distracted by a large insect nearby (which we later discover is actually a fairy).

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Ofelia runs after the insect, which offers her an escape from the world of the base.

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Ofelia sees a gateway to a whole different world.

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Ofelia looks up to the insect, wondering if she should proceed.

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She sees the insect on the archway, which has a depiction of a face with an open mouth, which almost seems to beckon Ofelia forward.

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Ofelia still stands close to the exit, which is shrouded in darkness. She is drawn by the light of this new world.

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Ofelia rounds a corner and continues to follow what she sees.


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Mercedes followed Ofelia and wonders what she’s up to. The side of Ofelia’s face that is toward Mercedes and the patriarchal world is covered in darkness.

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Mercedes listens to Ofelia with interest and her face is covered in light, though she is still placed in front of the archway to the base. Ofelia contemplates Mercedes’ advice to return to the base.

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A soldier stands in the archway gazing at the pair, representing the patriarchal world of the film. Mercedes is in the middle, craning to look back at the world to which she must return. Ofelia remains as far from that world as she can.

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Mercedes starts to leave immediately and is again covered in darkness. Ofelia pauses, reluctant to leave, and half of her face is lit by the sun.

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Ofelia goes to Mercedes’ side, and they walk toward the base.

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The insect sits perched on the archway, watching the women return to the patriarchal world.

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Although Ofelia finds the Labyrinth, a world of fantasy, she is often forced to return to the base. She always faces the threat of being seen by one of the soldiers or Vidal himself (the male gaze) when she runs off into the woods. Also, her mother (who is immobile in the base and controlled by patriarchy) often fears for Ofelia’s safety. Though the Labyrinth offers an escape for Ofelia, patriarchy and the male gaze often bind her to the world of the base


June 29, 2008

Pride & Prejudice: The Gaze

The 2005 film Pride & Prejudice, directed by Joe Wright, is based on Jane Austen’s popular novel of the same title. The classic tale of love and social classes unfolds in eighteenth century England. The five Bennett sisters have all been raised with one purpose in life: finding a wealthy husband. When one of the older Bennett sisters, Elizabeth (Keira Knightley) meets the handsome and wealthy bachelor Mr. Darcy (Matthew MacFadyen), she believes he is the last man on earth she could ever marry. But as their lives become intertwined in an unexpected journey, Elizabeth finds herself captivated by the very person she swore to loathe for all eternity.Ke

I believe that Pride & Prejudice is mainly based on the idea of the gaze. As theorized by Laura Mulvey in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema�; the gaze is the power and pleasure of looking and being looked at.

In the opening scene, or the establishing shot, the viewer notices the lush, green landscape as the sun is brilliantly rising on the horizon and the frame immediately establishes that the film is set in rural England.

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Then the camera cuts to a point-of-view (POV) shot of Keira Knightley’s character, Elizabeth Bennett. You see her wearing a plain, brown dress (which is symbolic of Elizabeth's class-status, and her love of nature). You also notice her reading a book as she is walking along the field.

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This scene is a POV shot where people are at a ball. Everyone's gaze is upon Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bingley, and Caroline Bingley as they make their grand entrance into the ballroom. Traditionally, the gaze is held by men, but in this scene it is held by both men and women.

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In this scene you notice a close-up shot of Mr. Darcy gazing at Elizabeth Bennett. Mr. Bingley is to the side of Elizabeth, and he is also gazing at Elizabeth as the three are saying their goodbyes. Mulvey notes in her journal article, "In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness" (page 40).

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In this scene the viewer notices a medium shot of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett at another ball. The two are engaged in an intense conversation as they are dancing and gazing at each other. The viewer notices other people in the background of the frame. Elizabeth Bennett is dressed in white to symbolize her virtue, and Mr. Darcy is dressed in black to symbolize his ill-favored behavior.

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Then the camera cuts to a close-up, or two-shot image of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennett as they are still dancing, and intently gazing at each other. The viewer also notices in the frame that it is just the two of them, whereas earlier in the scene, people from the ball were surrounding them. It symbolizes that they only care about each other in the room, and nobody else. Mulvey states, “In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female� (page 39).

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In this scene, the viewer notices Mr. Darcy is the POV in an over-the-shoulder shot. He is wet from following Elizabeth to the gazebo in the rain. He is gazing at Elizabeth Bennett and professing his love for her, which she rejects. The viewer notices the thunderstorm in the background of the frame, which is symbolic of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth's stormy relationship.

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In this frame you see a close-up shot of Elizabeth as she is gazing through an open-cracked door at Mr. Darcy's younger sister, Georgiana, who is playing the piano. A female is gazing at another female.

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Then the camera cuts to a reflective-mirror image of Georgiana playing the piano, which is symbolic of the gaze.

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Next, the camera cuts to a two-shot image of Mr. Darcy entering the room where Georgiana is, and then the two notice that they are being watched by Elizabeth.

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In this scene, we see Elizabeth Bennett in a close-up shot as she is walking in the early morning, much like in the opening shot of the film. The viewer notices her gazing at something in the far distance. In her journal article Mulvey says, “The camera becomes the mechanism for producing an illusion of Renaissance space, flowing movements compatible with the human eye, an ideology of representation that revolves around the perception of the subject…� (page 47).

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Then the camera cuts to a long-shot of Mr. Darcy walking in the field toward Elizabeth.

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Next, the camera cuts to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy in a close-up shot. Elizabeth is kissing Mr. Darcy's hand after they finally profess their love for each other. Mr. Darcy is lovingly gazing down upon Elizabeth. The background of the image is reminiscent of the opening scenes with the sun shining, and morning dew is present in the background of the frame. Mulvey says, “The man controls the film fantasy and also emerges as the representative of power in a further sense: as the bearer of the look of the spectator, transferring it behind the screen to neutralise the extra-diegetic tendencies represented by women as spectacle� (page 41).

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In this final scene of the film, the viewer notices a close-up shot of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy sitting and facing each other at their estate in the evening. They are gazing at each other in a loving way. The two have just been married and they are elated.

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Then the film cuts to another close-up shot of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy kissing on the lips for the first time in the film. And so ends the film.

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By using the concepts of the gaze, and ideas from Laura Mulvey's journal article, the main point of the film is clear to its viewers; it is an evolving love story with many twists and turns.

No Laws. No Limits. One Rule. Never Fall In Love.

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“Moulin Rouge,� released in 2001 and directed by Baz Luhrmann, is a modern-day musical about love. The film follows a young English poet, Christian (Ewan McGregor), who comes to Paris, France in 1899 to take part in the Bohemian revolution. Like other Bohemians, Christian believes in freedom, truth, beauty, and above all else, love. Christian visits the Moulin Rouge in an attempt to pitch a play to the club’s owner Harold Zidler (Jim Broadbent) but instead finds the club’s star courtesan, Satine (Nicole Kidman). Christian instantly falls in love with Satine and starts a dangerous love affair with her. However, Satine is also coveted by the club’s main investor; the Duke (Richard Roxburgh). As the opening of Christian’s play draws nearer, the Duke becomes a greater presence in the Moulin Rouge, causing strain for the two lovers as they try to hide their affair. In the end, the audience sees the darker side of the Parisian nightlife and how it has no room for love.

The film won the Oscar for both “Best Art Direction-Set Decoration� and “Best Costume Design� in 2002. It was also nominated for “Best Actress in a Leading Role� (Nicole Kidman), “Best Cinematography� (Donald McAlpine), “Best Editing� (Jill Bilcock), “Best Makeup,� “Best Sound,� and “Best Picture.�

Because the film is essentially about forbidden love, the color palette consists of deep blues, blacks, and red. Blue is significant because it represents the two main characters’ sadness. They want nothing more than to live and love each other yet, because of their class and career choices (mainly Satine’s career choice), they are unable to do so. Black is important because it foreshadows a grim ending, in both life and love. It also represents the sin that takes place in and around the Moulin Rouge. Red, for obvious reasons, is scattered throughout the entire film. It represents love, passion, danger, violence and blood, all of which are represented in the film.

In chapter 13 (“One Day I’ll Fly Away�) the audience realizes Satine’s desperate desire to leave her life in the Moulin Rouge. She wants to become a “real actress� and also wants a life in which she can love someone. It is also an important scene because it employs Laura Mulvey’s concept of the gaze.

“Women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact…Traditionally, the women displayed has functioned on two levels: as erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as erotic subject for the spectator within the auditorium, with a shifting tension between the looks on either side of the screen,� (Mulvey, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema�).

Traditionally, the gaze is held by the male figure, however, in this scene it is shared between the audience, the male (Christian), and the female (Satine), all of whom are given only a small amount of agency.

The scene opens with an image of Satine walking towards the window of her room in the Moulin Rouge. She is wearing a long, red dress. By the look in her eyes, the audience can tell that she is intensely looking at something.

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The frame cuts to a point of view (P.O.V.) shot of Christian’s room just across the street from the club. The audience now knows that Satine is gazing at Christian.

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Cut back to Satine’s room in which the camera slowly zooms in on Satine’s silhouette. She is surrounded by black, blue and red as she is framed within a heart shaped frame. This shows that she and her heart are trapped in the Moulin Rouge.

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The frame intercuts images of Christian looking back towards Satine before the camera show the audience another P.O.V. establishing shot. It is Satine’s point of view because the audience is supposed to identify with her. As the camera slowly continues to zoom in on the city, the audience is able to see what Satine sees: a dark city of lust with little to no room for love.

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After another image of Satine gazing at Christian, the camera cuts to Christian and follows him as he walks towards the window. It is important to note that the camera never shows his P.O.V. as he looks at Satine. This is because he sees her as more than something to be gazed at; he loves her. He is framed in a blue window with warm light coming from inside the room. This represents the warmth in his heart to take Satine away from the Moulin Rouge.

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Cut to Satine. The camera slowly tracks to the right. She is again framed within a frame as her gaze remains fixed. This time however, the frame is made out of metal, much like that of a pretty cage.

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The camera sharply cuts to Christian and zooms in to a medium shot. The speed of this cut is important because it represents the loving tension that is building up in his heart.

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The audience’s gaze remains on Satine, the object of men’s desires, as the camera quickly tracks her movements out of her room and up the stairs. The camera begins with a close-up shot of Satine as she breaks her gaze and continues to zoom out until we see her whole body running up the stairs in a dash to get as far away from the Moulin Rouge’s interior.

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After the camera quickly zooms out to show the entirety of the Moulin Rouge’s elephant room (Satine’s room) it cuts to medium shot of Satine. She is in the right third of the frame. Her red hair and dress pop as it is placed in front of a dark blue backdrop.

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Even though Satine believes she is alone (which was established by the wide shot just moments before), Christian is present. He climbs up the back of the elephant in order to be with the woman that he loves.

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The scene ends as the camera zooms in on the two characters. Satine is in focus while Christian is slightly blurry. This is because the audience is still supposed to identify with Satine.

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By using the gaze and color palette, the intension of the film becomes clear. The film is intended to tell a story of two people who love each other and the struggles they go through in order to fulfill their love.

V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is the story of a dystopia taking place in near future England under the rule of a conservative dictatorship that controls its people through lies and fear until an anarchist revolutionary comes along named V and through his efforts uncovers a horrible truth about the past of the country and leads the people in a revolt. V for Vendetta was directed James McTeigue (The Matrix, Star Wars Episode II) and starred Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. It is based on the graphic novel series of the same name written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd. The DP on the film was Adrian Biddle (Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason, The Mummy Returns).

Because of the film’s attempt to stay with the graphic novel design, camera angles and the color palette play a huge role in the framing of the scenes. However, unlike most movies based on graphic novels, the protagonist is a woman. Because of this, the gaze, though sometimes male, is predominantly female, especially in this scene that is being analyzed.

This scene is pivotal because it shows the viewer, for the first time in the film, what life was like before the reclamation and how it affected the people during the “transition� to the current government. The scene shows main character Evey Hammond after being caught by the authorities getting tortured for information on V, the revolutionary. It is inter-cut with her reading the autobiography of the woman in the cell next to hers, a lesbian actress who has been imprisoned because of her sexual preference which in this fascist government is illegal.


V23.jpgThe scene starts with a close-up on Evey’s face under water. Her eyes are closed and she appears to be holding her breath. The lighting of the scene is very grey/blue, representing the current political air of the time. The camera tilt’s up as she come out of the water, gasping for breath. A man, with no visible face, is questioning her. The camera tilts back down as she is re-immersed in water. This scene is showing Evey getting tortured. The lighting is reflective of the dark times she is experiencing.
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The next shot shows her being dragged into her cell. We get a bird’s eye view of her alone and curled up on her cell floor, with no light coming through. This is a perfect example of Scopophilia, watching her alone where no one else can see, the audience gets to watch voyeuristically because they see what no one else can. And without being seen back.

“Scopophilia, or sexual pleasure in looking, is activated by the very situation of cinema: the darkened room, the way the gaze of the spectator is controlled by the aperture of first, the camera and second, the projector, the fact that the spectator is watching moving images rather than static ones (painting) or live actors (theater), all help to make the cinematic experience closer to the dream state than is possible in the other arts. Psychoanalytic critics argue that a kind of regression to the state of early childhood happens in the cinema. (Women and Film, Kaplan p. 9)

The idea of scopophilia becomes especially true as the audience begins to read the autobiography Evey finds in the small hole in her cell wall. The audience is hearing a story that no one knows but Evey and Valerie, the story teller. And the audience is the only one capable of seeing the entire story from a third person perspective.

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As the story unfolds, Valerie is discovered to be an actress, we see her in a film acting out the stereotypical feminine roll. She is washing and wearing a dress. She I heavily made up with perfect hair and make up. There is tons of yellow in this scene, soft yellow lighting, and yellow sheets. As her lover, Ruth, walks up there is a close-up of the two faces as they go in for a kiss, a yellow orb of light forms between their lips from the setting sun. The gaze is still prevalent here, but it is that of the audience not of any character on the screen. With constant close-ups the audience is given a perspective that they never would have been able to see in real life.

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After the kiss, the film cuts immediately to a red watering can watering red roses. The stark contrast from the yellow to the red is very symbolic. The yellow represents a new day, innocence. Like a sunrise. The red represents many things, love and passion. But because of the quick switch from yellow to red, the red is also a warning of things to come. The camera tilts up to show Valerie smiling and smelling the roses. Cut to a close up of a tea pot, white and red. Ruth and Valerie are shown as the camera zooms out, flirting, smiling and kissing. The lighting is a soft light yellow. Even though both characters are female and the gaze would seem then to necessitate a feminine gaze, the characters never seem to take on the object/subject relationship that a gaze must have to exist. But the gaze of the camera and the audience are still there, which is obviously in the way the film is shot. The invasive and sometimes surreal camera angles allow the audience to scrutinize the characters. Which is why the camera zooms out in this shot, to give the audience a little more of the whole picture every second, to let them make the judgments on what is happening in this scene.

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As a juxtaposition of the zooming out of the women, the camera cuts sharply to the television screen, showing the news of the war in America and its arrival in Britain. The camera is slowly zooming in as a montage of violent scenes are shown until its zoomed in so far that the television set in no longer visible just the scenes that are being played from it. This is cut with a shot reverse shot of the women on the couch. The women are being zoomed in on but as this is happening, the background (specifically the roses), are moving further away from them. The lighting of the women in this scene is slightly darker than in previous shots. The gaze of the camera is showing the distance these women have to take from their happy lives. It is slowly moving away without them really noticing.

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The story stops and the film goes back to Evey in her cell. The lighting difference is immediately noticeable. The lighting is dark and cold versus the light, warm lighting of Valerie’s story. Again a faceless man is seen, shoving Evey into her cell. The fact that the man has no face shows that any man could be capable of this kind of treatment. So far in both Evey and Valerie’s experience in the prison all the victims have been female and all the antagonists have been male. Evey then crawls across the floor of her cell and then there is an extreme close-up of her hand reaching into the hole to retrieve more of Valerie’s story.

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The next shot is Valerie and Ruth sitting on the couch watching the news. The light is considerably darker but still with a warmer palette. Shot reverse shot to the television set showing Chancellor Sutler yelling and impassionedly speaking. He is wearing all black and the soldiers and marchers with him are also wearing black. The carry flags of black and red. The color choice here is incredibly deliberate. Black and red are both colors of death, evil and blood. Reverse back to an extreme close-up of Valerie and Ruth gasping hands.

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The next shot is a young gay couple sleeping together. The camera zooms out as their apartment is broken into. This is the first time in the scene that we see males as victims. The lighting is very dark, but not cold colored, still a warmer hue. The young black man’s head is covered with a black bag, symbolizing death. The camera in this shot is moving around a lot and shaking. In this way the audience gets a point of view shot from the “finger men�, putting the audience in a place of power.

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Cut to a low angle close-up of spilt groceries on the ground. The narration is saying that Ruth got taken away. The camera tilts up to show a blue van, with glowing red rear lights and white lettering that seems to glow in the dark with the words “For Your Protection�. As the van drives away more details is seen as well as a very well lit white sign on the wall stating “Strength Through Unity, Unity Through Faith�. The use of the red, white and blue is a tip to the British and American flags of the same colors. It is a warning of where things are headed in the political landscape we are living in today.

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Cut to a medium shot of Valerie crying on her couch. The next shot is a long shot of Valerie sitting directly in the middle of the bottom third of the screen. The camera is slowly zooming in on her. Her spirit is broken. The lighting is not warm at all anymore, but more a brownish color, and very dark. She is un phased as soldiers break into her apartment and surround her with guns.

By using color and the camera’s gaze, V for Vendetta shows us a story of things that could happen if the world’s politics continue on the track they are on now.


June 27, 2008

Covering the Silence


The Hours, released in 2002, was directed by Stephen Daldry—who also directed Billy Elliot—and is based on the novel by Michael Cunningham. David Hare wrote the screenplay, Seamus McGarvey was the director of photography—and was also the DP for the film Atonement—and Philip Glass wrote the music for the film. The Hours won a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture - Drama, and Nicole Kidman won a golden globe and an Academy Award for Best Performance by An Actress in a Motion Picture – Drama. The film follows three women in three different decades: Virginia Wolf (played by Nicole Kidman) writing her novel “Mrs. Dalloway� in 1923, Laura Brown (played by Julianne Moore) as a 1951 pregnant housewife, and Clarissa Vaughan (played by Meryl Streep) as a modern woman in 2001 planning a party for her homosexual friend Richard (played by Ed Harris) who is dying of AIDS. All three women are connected by Virginia Wolf’s book “Mrs. Dalloway�—Wolf’s tumultuous emotions and dark thoughts influence her writing of her protagonist, Laura is reading “Mrs. Dalloway� and relates to the protagonist, and Clarissa—nicknamed “Mrs. Dalloway� by Richard—represses her dissatisfaction with her life. All three women fight depression and struggle to find meaning in their lives.

The Hours, then, is a story about three women trapped within their mundane lives by their repressive society and their personal apprehensions as they struggle for agency and independence.

I believe that this film also employs Laura Mulvey’s concept of the gaze in her article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.� According to Mulvey:

Women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness…Traditionally, the women displayed has functioned on two levels: as erotic object for the characters within the screen story, and as erotic subject for the spectator within the auditorium, with a shifting tension between the looks on either side of the screen.

This scene comes from the chapter “The Hours� in which the three female protagonists are introduced and shown going through their morning routines. It is in this scene that Mulvey’s concept of the gaze is utilized in order to further trap these women within the film and outside of the film.

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This first shot is of the main title of the film: a black background with white titles. The title is simple, understated, much like the women in this film. In the film are themes such as: discovering the meaning of life and searching for hope. Thus, the white titles convey a sense of hopefulness in the darkness. Also, the black background symbolizes death, and since the scene prior to this one was of Virginia Wolf committing suicide, we understand that this film is about the interplay of death and life, of hope and despair, of black and white.

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In a long shot, the camera tracks to the left, following the Curtis & Son Transfer and Storage Truck as it pulls into a traditional 1950s style neighborhood. By initially focusing on the bright orange truck, the audience understands that this is a newly developed neighborhood where people are moving to, which sets up the context for Laura Brown and her lifestyle. The houses are nearly identical to one another, and the trees are perfectly placed alongside the road; the setting is uniform and dull, just like Laura’s life. As the truck drives down the road, we see another nice car drive beside it and a man in a suit walk from his house—this is a middle class neighborhood. Before we even meet Laura, we know that she is trapped in a world with no individuality, little color—the color palette is made up of oranges and pale greens—and no passion.

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Still a long shot, the camera tracks to the left as the nice car drives into a driveway. The camera follows the man as he gets out of his car and white titles appear telling us the year is 1951 and the location is Los Angeles. With his hair slicked back and wearing a white shirt and dress pants we know he is a white, middle class male just like all the rest living in this suburban neighborhood. As the camera tracks left, palm tree trunks obscure the audience’s view; again there is a sense of imprisonment, that whoever lives inside the house is caged. In his arm he is holding a bouquet of yellow roses—flowers are essential to this film, and in most shots there are flowers present. Because this film centers on Wolf’s novel “Mrs. Dalloway,� flowers become a representation of not only her novel but also of the mundane activities of these three women’s lives. In the book, Mrs. Dalloway is throwing a party and decides to buy flowers. But as the story progresses, she contemplates the meaninglessness of her life and the seemingly irrelevant things she does, like buying flowers. The flowers become a symbol of life and meaning and beauty.

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The camera cuts to a medium shot of the man in his home carrying the flowers and tracks to the left as he sets the flowers down and looks at his watch for the second time—clearly he is a busy man who likes everything in order. The colors in the house appear dull and lifeless; there are hints of red in the flowers behind him, symbolizing passion and lust, which is what his wife Laura desperately longs for. The focus of this scene is the flowers, because they are the brightest objects in the house.

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The camera cuts to Laura’s husband peering at her from the doorway. In the doorway, he is merely an outsider looking in, gazing at his wife. The film implies that he will never truly understand her, that he can only see what is on the surface rather than discovering what lies inside her soul. Because Laura is in a vulnerable position by being asleep and unaware of her husband’s presence, his gaze could be classified as voyeuristic (Kaplan, Women and Film: Both sides of the camera, p. 14). According to Mulvey in her article “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,� a voyeuristic gaze is sadistic and controlling. As the audience gazes at Laura’s husband gazing at Laura, the audience “identifies with the main male protagonist� (41). The male in this scene, then, gains power and objectifies the female. This is surely the case for Laura and her husband. In another scene later on, he continually calls for her to come to bed, much to her disgust. He treats her as an object fit for his pleasure and not as a human being with emotions and desires.

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The camera tracks right to a close-up of Laura, whom we see sleeping; she is the passive object of her husband’s erotic gaze. She is not only trapped within her marriage and her society, but by her husband’s gaze; asleep, she is vulnerable and unaware, a helpless victim whom we sympathize with.

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The camera cuts to a new man—who the audience later discovers is Virginia Wolf’s husband Leonard—walking along a park in Richmond, England. The camera tracks to the right as he walks along the park, his movement stiff and deliberate. The color palette of this scene is quite unlike the washed out colors of Los Angeles. In this location, the color palette is made up of dark tones: dark greens, and browns. The man is shrouded in shadows, and even as he descends stone steps to a lower plane with lush green trees, he becomes immersed in shadow. The dark colors symbolize the man’s passionless nature, his calculable sensibility, and his brooding fear for his wife’s well-being.

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The camera cuts to a leftward tracking shot of the man entering a gate—another symbol of imprisonment—, at which point the camera tracks upward, over the gate, and holds for a long shot of the house and its surroundings. Yet again the color palette is dark. From this perspective, with the leaves on the left so close to the camera, the audience feels as though they are peering over the gate into this secret life, that they are glimpsing something hidden away.

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The camera cuts first to a shot of the man inside his house, littered with books, and then to another shot angled downward, as if the audience is peering down at the two men from above. The house, what with its dark woods and absence of light, seems ominous and drab. In the second shot, a long bird’s eye shot of the two men, the audience takes on an insider’s point-of-view. In a way, the audience is gazing voyeuristically at the two men; the audience becomes the active participant objectifying the males in the scene. Because the women in this film are searching for power and independence, this shot strips the power from the men and gives it to the audience.

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The camera then tracks upward slowly to a doorway and cuts to a close-up rightward tracking shot of Virginia Wolf’s bedroom. The camera stops as it reaches her face. This is similar to the shot of Laura Brown in bed. By creating a similar shot—there are many more montage shots later on—the director emphasizes a connection between the two women. Her dark hair is loose and contrasts greatly to her pale skin and white sheets and nightgown.

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The next shot is a long establishing shot of the third and final location: New York City in 2001. A train passes by, blurring the image so that objects become unclear. This is a film about discovery and contemplation; the protagonist of this location, Clarissa, doesn’t know how to solve the problem of her unhappiness and is blind to just how miserable she is.

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As the train passes, the pillars of the subway look similar to the bars of a cage; Clarissa is trapped inside her own life due to her repressed emotions and her regrets. Before Clarissa is even introduced, the director hints at her imprisonment and her stifling environment.

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In this medium shot of Clarissa’s partner Sally, the color palette is composed of contrasts: bright red contrasted against black and white (like the titles of the film). Red is the color of sin, passion, and desire. Possible infidelity is hinted at when Sally sneaks into bed with Clarissa, thus Sally’s red coat symbolizes her sinful activities, or it signifies that she is a passionate individual, unlike Clarissa who represses her emotions.

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The camera cuts to an extreme long shot of the apartment building where Clarissa and Sally live. This shot establishes where Clarissa lives.

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The camera cuts to Sally entering the building and then being inside her bedroom. Initially the shot is a close-up of Sally from the knees down as she takes off her pants. The camera tracks to the right as she unclothes, and the audience can see her reflected in one of the mirrors. Mirrors become important in this film, and especially in this scene.

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The camera tracks to the right, following Sally as she enters the bed and then centers on a close-up of Clarissa, her eyes slowly opening. This image is similar to the one of Virginia and Laura both in bed, and connects Clarissa to her other female protagonists. Due to these nearly identical shots, the director creates continuity within the film and implies that his themes are universal throughout, that these women, despite living in different decades, are strikingly similar. This shot’s color palette is nearly all white, white being the symbol for purity and contrasts against Sally’s bright red coat. The colors in this scene create a tension, because Sally trades her sinful color for a purer one, which mirror her attempt at fooling Clarissa.

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The next sequence of shots is a montage of the three women’s morning routine. The camera returns to a high-angle shot of Laura looking for her husband and realizing he isn’t beside her. By looking down at her, she appears smaller and more vulnerable, a helpless woman trapped in a loveless marriage.

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In this close-up, Virginia moves her head in a way similar to Laura in the last shot. Again the director creates continuity between the three women.

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The camera cuts to Clarissa turning off her alarm and sitting farther up, her grey hair loose and long against her back. The headboard of her bed has red and blue flowers—flowers to hint at the “Mrs. Dalloway� story—on it, two colors that come up again and again in this film—blue representing Clarissa’s melancholy and red representing her desire for love.

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The camera cuts to a medium shot of Clarissa, who makes sure to turn off the light before entering the bathroom—she is a perfectionist who needs to have everything her way, and cannot allow things to happen outside of her control.

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The camera tracks left—note the orchids in the picture, another reference to the Dalloway story—and stops as she does her hair. The color palette of this shot is bland, nearly stripped of all color, much like Clarissa’s lifestyle; her dissatisfaction with life is represented by the objects around her.

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In accordance with a montage, this scene is also of Virginia putting up her hair in much the same way as Clarissa—they are mirror images of one another in two different worlds. Clarissa is called “Mrs. Dalloway� by her friend Richard because Clarissa goes about her day while hiding her insecurities just like the protagonist of the novel. In a scene later on, Richard says to her, “Oh Mrs. Dalloway, always giving parties to cover the silence.� Virginia’s image is also trapped within the mirror at her dressing table, a reference to her dueling personalities—she is schizophrenic—as well as a symbol of her imprisonment. With Mulvey’s three gazes in mind, Virginia is not only trapped within the lens of the camera but she is also trapped within the frame of the mirror.

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In this close-up of Clarissa, the audience looks over her shoulder—they see what Clarissa sees and thus takes on her point-of-view. Her gaze is directed at herself; it is an introspective gaze because she is searching for happiness and meaning.

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In this shot, Virginia stops and gazes at herself in the mirror, but this time the audience does not get to see what she sees at first. Her gaze is a mystery, which implies that the audience will never truly understand how Virginia sees the world or what goes on inside her head. This is true for all three women. Next to the window, her shape is very dark, much like her mood.

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The camera cuts to a close-up of Virginia gazing at herself in the mirror, much like Clarissa; she appears dissatisfied, even angry, with what she sees. She, like Clarissa, is trapped within the camera’s gaze and within her own gaze. This gaze, like Clarissa’s, is introspective.

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This shot is of Laura in bed, with her book “Mrs. Dalloway.� Her belly is exposed, so the audience knows she is pregnant. She slides her hand down her chest, near her breast, in a seemingly sexual way—she is a woman who desires passion but does not receive it from her husband. Also, the wallpaper and her nightgown have red flowers on it—red for passion and flowers as another hint at the Dalloway story.

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Intercut with the previous scene are a few scenes with Laura’s husband searching the cupboards for a bowl. Clearly, he does not cook but rather acts as the “manly� man of the house.

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Virginia Wolf takes another look at herself in the mirror with little interest before heading out the door. She cares little for her appearance, and with her hair loose and falling out the audience understands her as a wild, restless woman who desires freedom above all else.

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The next montage consists of three shots of all three women in a row, staring into space, looking pensive. This is a film, after all, about women trying to figure out what’s missing in their lives.

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The next brief montage is of flowers—red flowers for Clarissa to symbolize her desire for passion, yellow flowers for Laura as a means of cheering her up, and blue flowers for Virginia to symbolize her sadness. The people touching the flowers also say something about each character and their time period. Clarissa grabs her flowers because she has a controlling, perfectionist mentality. Laura’s husband touches the flowers because he is the man of the house, the man in charge of what Laura receives. In the last picture, the maid touches the flowers, which says something about the class system for Virginia Wolf’s time period; she is cared for and sheltered, and she loathes it.


The Hours emphasizes universal themes, unaffected by the passing of time. It is a film about three women trapped inside themselves, longing to break free and attain true happiness. They struggle with depression, desire, loneliness, and the need to please others. The film not only contains aspects of a voyeuristic male gaze, but also a female introspective gaze. In gazing at their reflections, they are searching within themselves for meaning as well as searching for it in their environments. In the film, Nicole Kidman (as Virginia Wolf) summarizes the film best: “A woman’s whole life in a single day. Just one day. And in that day…her whole life.� The repetitive music, continuity, and montage sequences help to blend the three women together into one unified subject, one woman screaming for freedom. In this pivotal scene there is no dialogue; rather, gazes and simple activities convey greater meaning. The film asks these questions: what has meaning? Does anything I do matter? Are these trivial activities meaningless? Do I have self worth if my life is dull? An important reason for their discontent is that all three women struggle with their homosexuality and their need for passion. They are trapped within loveless relationships, within the gaze of the camera, the gaze of the spectator, and their own gaze. They are bound in silence, struggling to embrace life. Yet they do not often become objectified by the males in the film. Laura is the only one who is an object of sexual desire for her husband. By gazing at themselves, they become both active subject and passive object (Mulvey, Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, p. 39). They acknowledge that they have the power and agency to change themselves, yet they also relinquish that power and enable themselves to be passive objects, victims to their surroundings.


June 26, 2008

Event: Queer Takes Film Fest at the Walker

Queer Takes Film Festival
June 25 - 29
Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis

While this season marks only the third edition of Queer Takes at the Walker, the series continues a rich history of LGBT cinema in the Twin Cities that started in the late 1980s with Jenni Olson’s series Lavender Images, which grew into a program at Film in the Cities, which initiated the first Minneapolis/St. Paul LGBT Film Festival. In 1995, the University Film Society picked up the festival and the series continued for the next few years at the Bell Auditorium, when I offered to assist in the programming. In 1999 the University Film Society and Oak Street Cinema merged, and the festival continued over the next few years at Oak Street until Minnesota Film Arts could no longer produce the festival and the Walker launched Queer Takes.

This new edition of Queer Takes has deep connections to the institution. Abigail Child, whose work was included in the 2006 Women with Vision Festival and is part of the Walker’s collection, has a new documentary on the African American male “downlow� scene. Gregg Araki presented his early feature film Long Weekend O’ Despair at the Walker in May 1989. In 1992 Araki’s The Living End, which had an area premiere at the Walker as a 16mm print, returns in an enhanced version through a high-definition transfer and a remixed sound track.

This year’s |

Events in June and July (after the jump)

Thursday, June 26: WomenVenture. WomenVenture Networks. 2324 University Ave W, Suite 120, St. Paul. 651/646-3808.

June 26: PFLAG St. Paul/Minneapolis. PFLAG Support Group - St. Paul
7-8:30 PM. St. Paul Jewish Community Center, 1375 St. Paul Ave., St.
Paul.

June 26: Minnesota Lynx vs Sacramento Monarchs. 7 PM. Target Center. Tickets.

June 26: OutFront Minnesota. Screening of the Oscar-winning short subject documentary Freeheld. Free. 7 PM at the Walker Art Center. More info: 612-375-7600.

Also: OutFront Minnesota and Casa de Esperanza. Screening of My Girlfriend Did It. Followed by discussion, training and lunch. Enhance your understanding of intimate partner violence in GLBT relationships.
8:15 AM - 4 PM at Landmark Center, St. Paul. To Register: Contact Casa
de Esperanza.

June 26, 27, 28: Minnesota NOW to benefit from play "State of the Union" by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay presented by Lex-Ham Community Theater and Sweet Charities Theater Company. Tickets: $17
general adminission; $15 students/seniors. Paul & Sheila Wellstone Center, 179 Robie Street East, St. Paul. More info.

Friday, June 27: OutFront Minnesota. Anne DeGroot Reception. Help honor Anne. 5:30 - 7:30 PM at the Private Dining Room Carlson School of Management. RSVP.

Saturday, June 28: Women's Environmental Institute. ORGANIC FARM SCHOOL "Field Trip: Dream of Wild Health" with Donna LaChappelle, Dream of Wild Health Farm Manager at Peta Wakan Tipi. Alternate
Location (Time TBD): 459 Wheeler St. N, St. Paul.

June 28: The Marsh, A Center for Balance and Fitness. Restorative Yoga with Leslie Johnson, certified Svaroopa Yoga teacher. 3 PM - 5 PM.
Members $25, Non-members $35.

June 28 and 29: NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota. Looking for volunteers to help out at their booth at the Twin Cities Pride Festival in Loring Park, Mpls.

June 28 and June 29: Visit Women Against Military Madness at the Peace Booth during the Pride Festival. Saturday: 10:00 AM - 10:00 PM and Sunday: 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM. Loring Park, Minneapolis. More info.

Monday, June 30: Children's Defense Fund Minnesota. "Kids Count Coffees". Learn how children in your area and across the state are doing. 2:30 - 4 PM. Minneapolis Urban League, Laura Scott Williams
Training Center, Minneapolis.

June 30: Women's Environmental Institute. ORGANIC FARM SCHOOL "Soil Health and Biodiversity in Practice - Harnessing Biology, Ecology, and Resiliency on the Farm" with Atina Diffley, Gardens of Eagan. 6 PM - 8 PM at Open Book, Minneapolis.

June 30: Women's Programs of Minnesota Advocates. 2008 Human Rights Law and Policy Conference 2008: Human Rights and the U.S.: The Past, Present and Future of Dignity and Justice for All. 8:30 AM - 4 PM at Dorsey and Whitney, Minneapolis.


Tuesday, July 1: Minnesota Lynx vs Chicago Sky. 7 PM. Target Center. Tickets.

Wednesday, July 2: Honoring Women Worldwide. Monthly Art of Honoring
Meetings. Think Outside the Box, Reach Your Highest Potential. 7:30 AM
- 9 AM at SPIRE, Falcon Heights. More info.

July 2: WomenVenture. Business and the Law. Protect your rights and
avoid costly lawsuits. This legal-fundamentals class is essential for
anyone wanting to stay in business and out of legal trouble. 6:00 -
9:00 PM at WomenVenture, $80.

July 2: Women Against Military Madness. Peace Bridge Vigil: Peace is
Patriotic. 5:00 - 6:00 PM at the Lake Street/Marshall Avenue Bridge.

Thursday, July 3: WomenVenture. The Best Place to Start. Orientation
provides an overview of our services and can help you determine your
next step toward more fulfilling work. 6:00 - 6:45 PM. Free.

Saturday, July 5: Workplace Justice. Support/Networking Meeting. 10 AM
- Noon. Minnesota Women's Building, 550 Rice Street, St. Paul.
952/996-9291.

July 5: Women Against Military Madness (WAMM). Special Benefit concert
for WAMM's Music for Peace Weekend features Tom Neilson: "Celebrating
the Struggle for Justice and Peace". 7:30 PM. St. Joan of Arc Church,
Minneapolis. Suggested Donation: $12.

Sunday, July 6: Women Against Military Madness (WAMM). Special Benefit
concert for WAMM's Music for Peace Weekend features Susan Cowsill:
"Just Believe It" with special appearances by Rick Robot of Tuesdays
Robot and the hot, new local group Gospel Gossip. 5-7 PM. Minnesota
Music Cafe', St. Paul. Suggested donation: $20.

Wednesday, July 9: Women in Transition. "The Dish" - Nourishing
Communication. 1 - 4 PM. Lenox Community Center, St. Louis Park.
Sliding fee scale.

July 9:Minnesota Lynx vs. Atlanta Dream. 7 PM. Target Center. Tickets.

July 9: Women Against Military Madness Rally and Fast. Join Minnesota
bishops, mayors, clergy, council members, congressmen, state senators
and representatives, business and cultural leaders who are opposing
war on Iran. Noon at the Minnesota State Capitol. More info:
612-827-5364.

OUR NEW CLASSROOM! (starting June 30!)

Starting on Monday, June 30, we will meet in Electrical Engineering/Computer Sciences 2-260!

The classroom looks like this:

Here's the map of the building location:

June 25, 2008

Asian/Asian-American Media Images

I blogged my lists here.

Have a great day, everybody.

June 24, 2008

Assignment: Category 4. Shot by Shot Analysis

For this assignment please write an 800 to 1000 word analysis addressing the following:

1 - do a BRIEF synopsis of the film and put the film in CONTEXT (writer, director, place, year...)

2 - select a scene in the film that demonstrates a key moment, and take image grabs frame by frame

3 - use key ideas or concepts in FEMINIST THEORY, FEMINIST FILM THEORY, or FILM THEORY (readings we have done in class, or outside scholarly readings) to critical read the filmic construction and larger meaning of this scene

4 - explain the film's message as you "read"/understand it, using your shot by shot analysis as evidence to support your claims

This assignment is due MONDAY, JUNE 30 at NOON!

!!! Be sure to use key terms and concepts in your essay, and note the works you cite in your analysis.

+ + +

Here's an example:

The Piano is a film directed by Jane Campion which tells the story of "a highly charged love triangle of English colonizers", according the Campion ("The Making of the Piano, Campion", 135). This film won the best director award from the Australian Film Institute, an Oscar for best screenplay in 1994, and at the 66th Academy Awards she was the second woman ever to be nominated best director, according to wikipedia.

I think that this film is very much about the idea of the gaze - the power and pleasure exchanged in looking and being at (as theorized by Laura Mulvey in "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema". Mulvey writes:,

The gaze is... [block quote from reading here]

Mulvey's idea of the "male gaze" can be seen at work in the sequence "The Photograph", in which Ada must take a photograph with her new husband, Stewart.

The first image of the scene is a wide tracking shot. The image is very blue, reminding us that this is a re-telling of the classic Bluebeard tale.

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The camera tracks through the rain, moving from left to right, through the dark, ominous trees of the New Zealand bush until this shot finally settles on Stewart's house, barely visible, isolated in this difficult landscape.

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It cuts to this image of the white help trying on Ada's wedding dress (really a tied costume). She is playful and seems to almost mock this wedding, since it really is just a wedding photograph, visual proof of this marriage, and not a "real" wedding.

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert analysis]

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[insert my reading of the film. conclusions....]

A Cinderella Story, but in Japan

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I chose to do my movie poster analysis on Memoirs of a Geisha. Adapted in 2005 from the best-selling novel (of the same title) by Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha is a story rich in characters and settings. The heroines in the film are very beautiful and their world is visually enchanting as they live trapped in sexual slavery. Technically, a Geisha is not considered to be a prostitute, and certainly the traditions of a Geisha house are culturally fascinating in their own right but, if Memoirs of a Geisha had been set in the West, the film would be perceived as children sold into prostitution, and that is not nearly as wonderful as being raised as a Geisha. The attractive women’s lives revolve around kimonos, mirrors, smoking cigarettes, and the mysteries of their hair when it is up, versus their hair when it is down.

There is not even the slightest suggestion of free will in the film, but then again, free will has never played much of a role in the world of a Geisha. This is made very clear in the beginning of the movie, around the year 1929, when a widowed fisherman sells his only two daughters to the human trafficking market in Kyoto, Japan. The eldest daughter, although hardly old enough for sex, is sold directly into prostitution, while nine-year-old Chiyo (Suzuka Ohgo) is sold to a Geisha house, where she will be an unpaid servant until it is determined if she is elegant enough for the house’s clientele. The house is run by Mother (Kaori Momoi), a very harsh older woman, and the house’s “prized� Geisha is Hatsumomo (Gong Li), a treacherous younger woman. Chiyo quickly becomes friends with Pumpkin (Youki Kudoh), a girl around her age, and they are raised by the Geisha house under strict discipline that trains them for a lifetime of pleasing wealthy men. Chiyo and Pumpkin learn that love has no role in the Geisha world. Although, Geisha tradition hints that they did fall in love with their clients, but the key word is “client� and their love was definitely not free. Nobody wanted it to be free; not the geisha, who was earning her living, or the client, who was using his money to have power over a woman while he maintained his freedom at the same time.

The main male role in the film is the Chairman (Ken Watanabe), who first encounters Chiyo when she is a child. As Chiyo and her beauty grow, it becomes clear that she represents a threat to the dominance of Hatsumomo. The story resumes when Chiyo is in her mid-teens and is purchased from Mother by Mameha (Michelle Yeoh), Hatsumomo’s main rival. Mameha’s master plan is to use her power over Chiyo in order to take control of Mother’s Geisha house, and away from Hatsumomo, who automatically expects to inherit the reins. Chiyo is renamed Sayuri, and is now played by actress Ziyi Zhang. The movie takes its viewers to the Geisha quarter of Kyoto, a sumo wrestling match, and an important dance performance where Sayuri’s virginity is auctioned off to the highest bidder. Then World War II intervenes in Japan, and during peace-making efforts, the Chairman desperately needs Sayuri, who has always and still does love the Chairman, perhaps because he directed her as a child into the best Geisha house in Kyoto. It works to the Chairman’s advantage for Sayuri to become a friend to his business colleague Nobu (Koji Yakusho), and for her to entertain the United States soldiers who have invaded Japan, so that the Chairman can rebuild his businesses. In the end, love conquers all, and Memoirs of a Geisha (directed by Rob Marshall of Chicago) supplies what is required of a romance story, elegantly and with skill. The actresses in the movie eloquently recreate Geishas as they imagined them to have been.

And now on to the movie poster analysis. You can clearly see in the Memoirs of a Geisha poster, that it is an up-close view of the lead character from the film, Sayuri (Ziyi Zhang). The colors in the poster are very bright. Immediately, you are drawn to Sayuri’s mesmerizing blue eyes, brilliantly painted red lips, and pale-looking face in the poster. Her long, black hair, is sweeping over her face and she is expressionless. This is a stunning image of a Geisha. It is more contemporary, relaxed, and informal when compared to the image of the Geisha (shown above) on Arthur Golden’s book cover. However, the traditional Geisha hairpiece and dress are missing in the poster. The three main colors in the poster are red, white, and blue. Of course these colors represent the United States, and being that the movie is set around the time of World War II, when the United States invaded Japan, the red, white, and blue coloring in the poster makes sense when relating to the Memoirs of a Geisha storyline. The intriguing poster definitely attracts the movie-going crowd and also readers of Arthur Golden’s book.

Here is a link to the Memoirs of a Geisha movie website:

http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/memoirsofageisha/index.html

June 23, 2008

Why "Mean Girls" is just plain mean...

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Mean Girls written and starring Tina Fey was a romantic teen comedy released April 30th 2004. Directed by Mark Waters, this movie, based on a novel by Rosalind Wiseman is a film about a high school junior who up to this point has attended home school while living in Africa with her parents. Her parents lose their tenure and thus they have to move back to the United States. Cady (our young heroine) is cast into a world, “girl world� as she calls it, that she knows nothing about. Being home-schooled in a country with a completely different culture then her new life, Cady is easily swayed by her fellow class mates. She makes friends with a young gay man, Damien and a socially awkward Goth-like girl, Janice, who are later described as “art kids�. They convince her to befriend the popular girls, also called “the plastics� in order to exploit their relationship and out their truly evil nature to the rest of the school.
“The plastics� lead by Regina George, are a group of three girls with strict rules on dress, dating and social code. However their plan backfires as Cady becomes friends with “the plastics� and turns into one of them. Through a variety of different rather insane scenes all the girls in the junior class find out their darkest secrets have been revealed, a bus hits Regina and Cady loses the friendship of the art kids.
However, in the end everything is okay because Cady shares the spring formal crown with everyone that she had upset while making an impassioned speech about equality between women focusing on the stereotypes of the disabled girl and the fat girl as people who need their self esteem reassured.
Looking at the poster, a lot of things are apparent. The movie will most likely be humorous because Tina Fey is acting in it (although basing movie genres after leading actors can often be a problem such as Will Ferrel in Winter Passing… drowning kittens in not funny). And since Tina Fey is an ex-writer of Saturday Night Live, we know its at least intended to be funny (whether it actually is funny is all depending on who is watching it). Lindsey Lohan is a popular teen star so we can assume it’s going to be a teenage, most likely high school, film.
Looking at the three girls on the left the first thing I notice is their aggressive stature. It is obvious who the “mean girls� are. This is further supported by the text underneath them stating, “watch your back�. This is not referring to getting stabbed in the back literally but more to the idea that women don’t deal with conflict head on, they just talk sh** about each other behind their backs. Which is something the girls in this film do regularly to each other. The next thing I notice is their dress. Why are they dressed so scantily? I don’t really know. There isn’t anything in the movie, other than the character of Karen, who is called a “slut� on many occasions, which would leave reason for these girls to dress like this. I believe this is just one way to market this film to men. Because at first glance, since this is a “chick flick� men supposedly wouldn’t be interested in seeing it. But now that we’ve added barely legal almost naked young ladies, the men are supposed to come a running. They are all wearing pink, a nod to their femininity, and also a rule for Wednesday apparel.
And on the left, we see Lindsey Lohan, dressed in full jeans, covering all her legs and a modest red shirt. As we’ve discussed in class red is a symbol for a lot of things, in this case, I think blood and murder is one of them as Lohan’s character, Cady is later accused of pushing Regina in front of a moving bus. However, although Lohan is dressed far more conservatively than her pink counterparts, she is still being quite sexualized by her exposed navel and tight fitting top. On her face is a look of fear and confusion. She has entered a world she knows nothing about and is going to suffer the consequences of that.
Lohan is separated from the “mean girls� by text. Most of the text is the fine print with details of the movie but also by the title of the movie. MEAN being in bold large font and GIRLS being in a smaller less threatening font. What does this mean? Girls are supposed to be sweet and innocent and not show anger. By making MEAN bold and threatening but not following through with this font through the rest of the title, it shows that these girls are not the norm. Not all girls are mean; most of them are sweet and innocent. It attempts to disconnect the two ideas, we hear MEAN girls, instead of MEAN GIRLS. One is yelled the other whispered.
So although I really did enjoy this movie and it is on my top ten list, it does carry a lot of damaging images, just on the poster alone. It would have been easy, I think, to make this movie without sexualizing the teenage girls as much as they did.


"Angelina Jolie is a feminist issue"



At first, this poster (and story, and character) seems very affirmative. Empowering. Feminist.

On the possibility of a female president, a blogger on feministing.com concludes, "I guess we’ll have to wait for Angelina Jolie to make a movie about it first." Of course they write this with a fair bit of sarcasm encoded. There are a multitude of things happening just in this poster that negate all "girl power" expounded therein. First, the body image Angelina Jolie represents is completely unattainable for the majority of (young) women. Most obviously, we find ourselves face to nipple with her wonderfully highlighted and gigantic breasts. The center of her glow from behind is right there, in her clearly modified (via surgeon or computer, or both) chest. Even more, the center of the whole poster is the combination of her huge boobs and teeny tiny waist. They glow like the holy grail of womanhood, an offering of what all self-identified women should bust their asses to become. If they don't, they are less than perfectly gendered women (oh no!). These impossible ideals are clearly meant to be the focus of your attention.

How about what her face is doing. At first glance she kind of looks a little tough. But upon closer inspection we find that she is looking down (probably toward some phallus or another-- maybe yours). She isn't staring at you saying "I'm gunna fucking kill you, you patriarchal bastards!" She is coyly glancing downward, puckering her lips (which are almost as large as her glowing boobs), and ultimately appearing very submissive to your gaze. Her look suggests dialogue more along the lines of "I think you're getting a boner right now."

Then it gets sexier. Look at that title. It is IN HER VAGINA. Seriously, to read "Lara Croft, Tomb Raider" the viewer is forced to gaze right up Angelina Jolie's vagina. This effect is even highlighted by the meticulously placed "M" in "Tomb Raider." If you pay attention to the "V" within this "M" you will see the graphic designer's trace of her actual vagina (conveniently presented for you in larger than life format).

The title's position also leads you to the straps of her holsters. This seems like a clumsy invention at best. With all of the running Lara does, those straps much chafe her thighs and labia like crazy. Ouch. The straps are up so high that they actually give an impression closer to garter belts than gun holsters. Like the title, they are pretty much in her vagina. They are dark, mysterious, and again, sexy. You want to take them off of her. Their positions reinforce the "V" traced in her vagina, in case you've already forgotten what is hiding under her little hot pants.

Also interesting is her "bad ass" skull belt buckle. This image is clearly representative of death and destruction and where is it placed? Right over her uterus. This creates connotations of the bad ass female figure as still somehow less than woman, due to her rejection of reproduction. It is as if because she kicks ass, she must be infertile and thus way less than perfectly gendered as a woman and mother. The holes in her belt are reflective of this imagery. They are literally holes where her ovaries/eggs/babies should be. This suggests that she is wearing pants (or itty bitty shorts) and a belt ("men's clothes" in the sense that basketball players once wore shorts of the same length) and is therefore not feminine, but a masculinized, childless, object that remains irresistibly sexy. She is forbidden and that much more desirable for it.

Finally, we have the "greatest" symbol of Lara Croft's power-- her automatic handguns. Like the title and the holster straps, these are placed in a very unambiguous way. Rather than threateningly pointing at you, the guns run parallel to her perfect thighs. If you were to move either a few inches toward the center, they, like everything else in the poster, would be engulfed by her vagina. They give you another reason to look up there because they are extremely phallic (not machine guns, which are for men, or knives, which could cut off your phallus) and perfectly placed for penetration (on the same plane you would be if you were there, right?). They intensify the effect of the gaze by simulating actually fucking Lara Croft, who, since we can't kid anyone, is really just Angelina Jolie in a costume.

The end result of these processes is discouraging. As the Spice Girls do, Lara Croft sells this sexism and objectification under the label "girl power" or feminism. Yet everything represented by her character and story is anything but positive. This backlash against (third wave) feminism is extremely dangerous because, by selling such tainted imagery, it draws away from real feminist issues.

That's why, as my partner Jill said in conversation last night, "Angelina Jolie is a feminist issue."

One master. Four wives. One fate.


For this assignment, I chose to analyze the DVD cover for the film "Raise the Red Lantern". The film was made in 1991 by director Zhang Yimou. It was adapted from a 1990 novel called Wives and Concubines by Su Tong. It stars Gong Li as the main character. I first viewed this film as a junior in high school. Fortunately, my high school had a film class that really sparked my interest in a variety of films. This film in particular has stuck with me ever since that class. The film takes place in 1920s China and tells the story of a 19-year-old woman named Songlian who is sent to be Master Chen's Fourth Mistress (concubine) after her father dies and leaves her in debt. Every night, the red lanterns are lit outside of the house of the woman whom the master wishes to stay with for the night. At first, Songlian is always chosen, and is waited on hand and foot every night. The other wives, however, won't be ignored and often play dirty tricks to have their lanterns lit.

As the women fight for their master's attention, several secret relationships and happenings within the household are revealed. That is, of course, the plot in a very restrictive nutshell. Take the time to see it if you haven't yet, it's really an incredible film that's won many awards at various international film festivals.
The DVD cover features Songlian seated on a bed, which is usually the place where the concubines wish to receive their master. This is also important because she seems as though she is preparing to spend the night with her master. In addition, much of the film takes place in Songlian's bedroom. She is in the center of the frame, though she is seated with a disconnected look on her face, suggesting she isn't really engaged in her surroundings. Along with her detachment, she is sitting with her hands crossed, inactive, which can represent the obedient manner she must take on in the household.
Songlian is framed between two lit lanterns, which reference the title of the film and the ritual of lighting the lanterns each night. This is supported by the servant giving Songlian a shoulder rub, as it is the special treatment the women with the lit lanterns receive. The lanterns not only frame Songlian, but also the servant, which indicates how both of their lives are ruled by whether or not the lanterns are lit. There are two framed paintings of women in the upper half of the image, which seem to suggest an air of tradition surrounding the concubine lifestyle. The women in the paintings combined with Songlian and the servant add up to a total of four women in the shot, which is the number of wives the master has in the film.
The bed sheets, pillows, lanterns, Songlian's dress and headband, and the lights from the ceiling are all red, which emphasizes the ritual of the lanterns and the mixture of love, lust and power struggles that exist within the world of the film. There is also some gold present in the image, which suggests the wealth of the master and the household. On the bed, there is a touch of white underneath the pillows to the right and above the pillows on the left, which I believe to be a reference to Songlian's life as a virgin before she was forced to move in with the master. Only the servant is dressed in green, which indicates she is of lesser importance than Songlian, and is not seen as a desirable woman. It is interesting, however, that she is above Songlian in the frame, which implies she may have some sort of power in the film (which she does but I don't want to spoil the film).
The lighting creates an interesting effect on both of the women's faces. It appears as though there is a window with natural light coming out of it from the right side of the frame. Because the women are not looking into the light, this may indicate their inability to see life outside of the world in which they are trapped. Furthermore, this light makes their faces look half cast in light and half cast in shadow. In my opinion, this represents the duality of the lives these women live, as they must act be obedient around their master, yet they play evil games with one another behind his back. Also, they must often repress their emotions and are not allowed to speak freely on their lifestyle.
Had I not seen this film before, my reading of this poster would have been entirely different. I probably would have thought Songlian was in a position of power, as the poster offers no hints that this power is conditional. The rich colors of the room would have made me believe she lived a rich lifestyle, which is complemented by the shoulder rubbing and the elaborate linens on the bed. The lanterns reference the title, but it's impossible to know about the ritual until after viewing the film. The framing of Songlian and the other woman (I wouldn't have known she was a servant specifically by looking at the poster) by the lanterns does, however, indicate a feeling of being trapped regardless.

You can't fit in when you stand out.

The collage of all these images is the movie poster for CAMP. CAMP is a teen drama comedy about a group of over achieving theater kids attending a weeklong summer camp where they can finally be themselves, and most importantly be accepted for being them. Most of the actors are newcomers to the big screen. camp.jpg

The movies was written and directed by Todd Graff, A Toney award nominee who brings a lot of musical elements to the film. Camp is the first film he wrote and directed. The producer was IFC productions, so this is a small independent movie that did not get a large release date in theaters. Todd probably got to keep most of his original ideas and had a larger creative direction for the film but did not get a huge budget.
The camp is based on a camp called Stagedoor Manor in New York. In the movie the kids all reconvene for the summer and we learn about a handful of vibrant characters all with different aspirations for the summer. At stagedoor everyone shares the common interests of theater, musicals, dance, Steven Sondheim, and the performing arts. The new kid at camp is Vlad (Daniel letterle) who reminds everyone that is ok to sometimes want to “just fit in.� Ellen (Joann Chilcoat) falls hard for Vlad and learns a thing or two about first crushes, and then there is Fritzi (Anna Kendrick, second youngest person ever to be nominated for a Tony) who goes all kinds of Eve Harrington on the summer’s production of Company.
The movie poster is a fragment of each of the different characters we get to fallow in the movie. What each character is conveying in the poster has something to do with what the character does in the movie. Seven of the characters are in frames. Those seven characters are in frames because, in addition to other things, the problems they face are centered on the stage. They are centered in a frame like they are centered in stage, framed for the audience.
The picture of Vlad and Ellen in the upper right hand is partially framed and Vlads head is popping out. Vlad is also the only character to have his picture on there twice, once large and in the middle framed and than a side shot in the corner with Ellen. Vlad is the central character the movie fallows. He has issues on stage, thus the center framed close up and also off stage mostly with Ellen. Vlads head is out the box in the upper right because his character holds the power in the relationship with Ellen. All we see of Ellen is her looking at Vlad witch is mostly all she wants to do at camp in the movie. Also in the movie are Fritzi whose only gets an eye on the poster, that eyes is looking at Jill Simmons (Alana Allen.) Because that is the person that she spend all of her time with in the movie and wants the most attention from finally just sabotaging her career. Jill however is trying to give the eye to Vlad in the poster but seems to just miss his gaze. That’s her character in a nutshell in the movie. Above Jill his Michel (Robin de Jesus) whose character spend much of the movie in a longing gaze for family, love, and acceptance much like his gaze in the poster. Next to him is Tiffany (Jenna Mallrone) who gets a big smile on the poster because her breakthrough in the movie has everything to do with opening her mouth wide. The last framed scene is of two characters doing an amazing tap dance sequence in the movie, always performing.
Around the frames is a kid who is doing a hand stand on the letter C, his character is small but also really fun and funny like he is on the poster. The person you might think the movie is all about because she is sprawled out in the center behind the title is Dee (Sasha Allen) Her character actually has a very small part her being there represents the performing element in the movie. The way she is placed makes your eyes start at her and then move right to Vlad and the other frames, much like the movie centers around summer plays and musical productions but underneath all that the main part of the film has to do with these characters personal dramas. Very small and unnoticed in black and white is a scene of a girl trying out for a part in on of the musicals. I think this represents that in the film no matter how big or small or black or white everyone wants a piece of the stage.
The overall feel of the poster is bright colors greens and deep blue, reds and soft washes on the faces, The soft colors and glossy feel is what we see when we watch the movie on the surface while they are on stage in the frames. Looking closer though you see that the characters have problems on their faces. The central title is in green, this means jealousy. Jealousy plays a main part in the film for several of the characters. The poster is also busy and intense with a bunch of different images and action. The movies pacing is fast and sporadic, fallowing one person and then another and goes from love and relationships to jealously and back stabbing to sitting in a dumpster learning the perfect technique to an effective silent scream. The overall feel and look of the movie poster accurately describes and highlights the main parts of the film.

No, You Do Not...

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This poster is for the forthcoming production of Will Eisner’s The Spirit. The film is adapted from the comic strip of the same name that began in 1940 and has continued in various reincarnations until today. As with many comics that span the decades, the tone and genre of the piece has shifted from mystery to comedy to horror to romance and back again. From the marketing campaign, it is clear that the film version will be focusing on the “Film Noir� aspects of the comic.

The adaptation will be written and directed by Frank Miller. Miller also made his name in the comic book industry primary through his work on Batman, Daredevil and the hard-boiled “noir-ish� Sin City series. Miller’s only experience working as a director has been in a co-directorial position alongside Robert Rodriguez for an adaptation of Miller’s own Sin City comic.
The Film Noir genre has a long history of stereotyping and exploiting female characters, routinely reinforcing the virgin/whore dichotomy and casting many of its female characters and malicious, sexualized “femme fatales� who must either be destroyed or saved. Indeed Laura Mulvey points to the Noir movement as the obvious example of the Voyeuristic male gaze. According to Mulvey, the pleasure in watching these films is sadistic; it “lies in ascertaining guilt (immediately associated with castration), asserting control and subjecting the guilty person through punishment or forgiveness� (42-43).
Miller himself has utilized the archetypes laid out by film noir countless times throughout his career sometimes on a broader scale than others. (Every major female character in Sin City, for instance, is a prostitute, with the exception of the sweet, “good girl� Nancy Callahan…she’s merely a stripper.) Miller is also no stranger to the objectification and exploitation of the female form, as can be seen in his artwork:
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It’s time to return to the poster in question. The onesheet features an extreme close-up shot of actress Eva Mendes as the character Sand Saref. Saref is a devious love interest for the Spirit. There is a mutual attraction between the two, but she is often on the wrong side of the law. (Think Cat Woman) This relationship will likely, though details of the film are still unknown, place The Spirit into the common Film Noir predicament when dealing with such dangerous women: he will have to convince her to give up her life of crime (save her) or he will have to foil her agenda (punish her).
Besides the actress’ face, the image includes two pieces of jewelry: a phallic bracelet which dangles from her teeth in a thinly veiled fellatio reference, and a diamond a ruby earring. The diamond encrusted jewelry and the woman’s expression of erotically charged ecstasy imply her materialistic and avaricious nature. This is a common female stereotype, which the poster clearly supports.
Color is used strategically in this poster as well. Most of the poster is black and white, but there are a few portions which are colorized in order to create emphasis. Obviously, since the poster is selling the film, the title is emphasized. The red letters tell the audience to expect blood and passion. The other points of color are on the earrings and on the woman’s eyes and lips. The earrings are also red. The red here shows that she is a passionate woman, but it could also signify that she is dangerous. It also emphasizes her materiality. The gemstone is red, showing her passion for jewelry, wealth and glamour.
The woman’s lips are painted with the only other red in the image. As if the sexual connotation of lips is not strong enough in itself, the red lipstick is used in order to make the woman’s lips unconsciously resemble her vulva.
The woman’s eyes are the only other colored segment in the image. Her eyes are brown, and are turned upwards in a submissive look. There is also a heavy amount of dark makeup around her eyes, giving her “bed-room eyes�.
The overall stylized look that the coloring develops creates a general distancing from the woman as an actual person, and moves her towards a state of unreality and objectification. This unreal state is also created by the airbrushed quality of her skin and the soft spot lighting. The spotlight in itself works to present her as an object to be looked at.
Finally, of course, there is the writing. The text, which is written directly on her face: “Do I look like a good girl?� It is a common, cartoony comic book font which further stylizes her in an unreal, and therefore, non-human way. The content of the statement also shoehorns her further into the role of the devious, bad-girl, femme fatale. It also has a strong sexual connotation. But the most egregious aspect, in my opinion is the simple fact that it is written directly on her face. It is written in quotation marks, as if giving the woman a voice, but in effect, it is simply branding the label “BAD GIRL� directly onto her flesh itself. She is labeled like a product, like an object. She is a bad girl, a sex object, a whore. This poster is part of a series, the others depicts Scarlett Johansson with her finger over her lips, the words “On your knees then� across her cheek, Jamie King with “Come to me…Lover� on her face, and Sarah Paulson, a man’s finger silencing her, with “Keep the mask on…� below her right eye. All of the posters are here:
http://movies.yahoo.com/feature/thespirit_slideshow.html

June 22, 2008

Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don't fall for it.

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This movie poster is from Cameron Crowe’s film “Almost Famous,� a movie about an aspiring rock-journalist’s adventures touring with a band. The film came out in 2000 and was nominated for several Oscars including “Best Actress in a Supporting Role� (Kate Hudson and Frances McDormand), and “Best Editing.� It won the Oscar for “Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen.� The film is supposed to be director Cameron Crowe’s semi-autobiography.

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William Miller, played by Patrick Fugit, is a 15-year-old music enthusiast who wants to become a writer for Rolling Stones Magazine. Miller receives an assignment from rock-journalist Lester Bangs (Philip Seymour Hoffman) to cover rock band Stillwater’s tour. While on tour, Miller finds himself in a love triangle between Penny Lane (Kate Hudson), a self-proclaimed “Band Aide� (quasi-groupie), and Stillwater’s guitarist Russell Hammond (Billy Crudup). Along with love, the Stillwater tour exposes Miller to sex and drugs.

According to the poster, sex is extremely important in the film, even more important than rock music. Kate Hudson’s body fills most of the poster. This indicates her prominence in the film. One might think that Hudson is the main character based off of this poster. She is not. “Almost Famous� follows Fugit’s character William Miller. He is not in the poster, which is strange to me. However, because he is enamored with Hudson’s Penny Lane, and would do pretty much anything for her, I can see why she is the only person in the poster. Penny Lane becomes the center of his world throughout the film.

In the poster, Hudson is also not wearing much in the way of clothing. She is in a see-through camisole and underwear. Since the top is see-through, her nipples can be seen, which – along with a messy bed and her body language – indicates that she has just had sex. She is leaning against the unmade bed as if she had slid off of it just as one might do if they were exhausted (exhausted from having sex perhaps). These images put together make Hudson seem like a sexual object. She is an object that Hammond uses for his own pleasure. However, she pretends to be in control of her sexual objectivity in order to survive in the world of rock music. Her control is seen in her eyes. She tries to take control of those who fall for her seduction.

Because Hudson’s face is the brightest part of the poster, it is the first thing a viewer notices. This is what the poster creators intended. They wanted to draw attention to Hudson’s eyes because the viewer will immediately sees the burning passion and seduction she possesses. However, it is unclear what her eyes burn with passion for. Is it a passion for music, for drugs, for a specific person, or for sex in general? The viewer won’t know until he/she watches the film.

AlmostFamousGallery2.jpg


While Hudson takes up most of the frame, she is not centered; a guitar is centered which means that music is at the center of the movie. Music is the center of the characters’ world and it is because of music that all of the events in the movie, including sex, happen. A few pulled quotes line the side of the frame opposite Hudson. The words are pulled from movie reviews to show its critical acclaim. It is not surprising that the portions of the text that are bolded are words/phrases that have sexual connotations. Words/phrases such as “feels great,� “deliciously,� and “better than sex� are further proof that the poster emphasizes the importance of sex in “Almost Famous.� Below the movie title is the film’s tag line. “Experience it. Enjoy it. Just don’t fall for it.� This is the philosophy the characters try to live by. Experience music, drugs and sex; enjoy them; just don’t fall in love with them. They succeed in living by this philosophy save for the last sentence. They all fall in love, which causes trouble and drama. Miller falls for Penny Lane; Penny Lane falls for Hammond; Hammond falls in love with his music and image.

Red, purple and white are the colors in this poster. I believe these colors were chosen for obvious reasons. Purple was chosen because is signifies high rank/royalty. Miller idolizes Penny Lane, the musicians of Stillwater, and the world of rock-journalism. However, it also signifies sorrow/suffering. Miller learns a lot of life lessons while on tour and goes through a significant amount of personal suffering. White was chosen because it represents purity. Miller is a young teen and is innocent. Before going on tour he had never tried drugs or had sex. While on tour, however, he was introduced to both substances. Red was chosen because it represents passion/love, blood (Penny Lane tries to commit suicide) and, perhaps more vulgarly, “popping someone’s cherry� (Miller has sex for the first time while on tour).

Chocolat, Deliciously Entertaining

This movie poster is for the film Chocolat, a film about a passionate young woman named Vianne with her daughter who opens up a chocolate shop in a bland, old-fashioned town in France. Her unconventional ways and mannerisms spark a fire within the town, but the Comte Paul de Reynold (played by Alfred Molina) is determined to rule his little town with an iron fist and force Vianne out. Chocolat was released in 2001 starring Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench, Alfred Molina, Lena Olin, and Johnny Depp. It was directed by Lasse Hallström, who has also been a producer, cinematographer, editor, and a writer (for Swedish as well as American films). He was also director of The Cider House Rules and What’s Eating Gilbert Grape. Chocolat was nominated for five Oscars.

Some of the film’s themes include: the distant relationship between mother and child, self discovery by means of a journey, embracing present enjoyments, maturation, and love. The film follows Vianne as she improves the town and changes personally in the process, how she comes to find a balance between being an independent woman and planting roots, of making her own decisions as well as having a family.

The movie poster consists of a close bust shot of Juliette Binoche (Vianne) and Johnny Depp (Roux). The poster is lit in such a way that their faces—particularly their facial expressions—are emphasized. Although Binoche’s entire face is viewable, her eyes are directed towards Depp, the object of her desire. It is no coincidence that Depp is holding the piece of chocolate—the chocolate, like Depp himself, symbolizes the object of one’s desire, a sinful treat that should be enjoyed. Depp’s face is in profile. In profile, Depp appears completely enamored with Binoche—his whole body is turned towards her; his mouth open, about to eat the chocolate, the director wishes to imply that once Roux eats the chocolate, he will be consumed with passion. While Binoche’s face is brightly lit, Depp’s eyes are shaded, making him appear mysterious and seductive; in the film Roux is labeled as a dangerous “river rat,� and so the movie poster portrays him as such.

Also, the piece of chocolate is perfectly in the center of the poster because it is the focus of the film, the thing that changes the lives of the town’s people. In the film, characters enter Vianne’s chocolate shop with doubts, but once they eat her chocolate their lives change for the better. The ring on Johnny Depp’s finger implies marriage, and the gem on it looks very much like a drop of chocolate, again emphasizing that chocolate will unite these two characters and make them fall in love with one another.

Since the film is about igniting passion and fire, the poster color palette is composed of warm tones: reds, oranges, and yellows—colors representing love and desire. The entire film plays with color; when Vianne first enters the town, the color palette consists of shades of grey, black, and white—bleak, gloomy colors. But as soon as Vianne begins stirring her chocolate and renovating the chocolate shop, the shop’s color palette is made up of vibrant colors. By solely infusing the movie poster with warm colors, the viewer understands that the film’s message is to embrace passion, excitement, and danger.

The movie poster does not accurately reflect the dominant story line—Vianne’s journey to find herself in this small town—but rather focuses on the sub-plot love story between Vianne and Roux. Roux does not even enter the film until fifty minutes in. By featuring Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche on the poster—they each take up one half of it—and making the town in the lower third incredibly small, the director implies that the main plot consists of a passionate love affair between these two characters, in order to get more people to see the film. Also, because Johnny Deep is a popular heart throb for women, he takes up half of the movie poster despite being a minor character; by doing this, more women will come see the film.

Chocolat is also a film that comments on religion and the restricting idea of lent. The Comte Paul de Reynold takes Lent too far and insists that everyone in the town follow it strictly. Yet Vianne is not a religious person whatsoever, and despises such a repressive ritual. Thus, by depicting Johnny Depp with the piece of chocolate in his hand, ready to eat it, the film links passion with sin, and that sometimes breaking the rules can lead to positive outcomes.

The film’s rhythm is slow and easy, and the voice over of Vianne’s daughter at the throughout the film makes it feel like a fairytale, a whimsical story for children. The color palette in the movie poster also has a whimsical element—the background has a textured, paint-like quality to it, as does Binoche’s dress which is smudged and blended into the color of her skin.

The cinematography of the film plays with contrasts: the drab colors of the town and town’s people in contrast to Vianne and her daughter’s bright red cloaks as soon as they enter the town. In nearly every scene there is some element of red in the color palette, from a little boy’s book bag, to a staircase, to the Comte’s tie. The film ties together the exotic taste of Vianne’s chocolate to the town, because eventually the town will embrace color and flavor; when this happens, the cinematography changes as well—the town’s people are dressed in bright blues, pinks, and yellows in the last few scenes.

Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

priscilla.jpg

The movie poster that I chose is from “The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert�. The background of the poster is an open desert with blue skies. There is a focus on a large silver bus, on which a person dressed is silver, has their arms outstretched and the wind blowing their hair and attire back. Below this image are three people, who appear to be women dressed in strange attire. They are in and surrounding part of the movie’s name PRISCILLA. You can see by looking at the cast that there are three to four men cast in the role as the main characters, because their names are on top of the poster in fairly large print. Since I have seen a drag queen before and the women portrayed on the poster look like drag queens, I can only assume that the three or four leading men are indeed drag queens traveling somewhere in the desert. I know that it takes place in Australia and in other versions of the movie poster there is a kangaroo crossing in the background which tells you that you are most likely in Australia, New Zealand.

The context of the movie, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, is about three drag queens; one of which is a transsexual woman, traveling across Sydney to another city in a bus, which is named by the drag queens “Priscilla�. It came out in 1994 in Australia and was later shown in the states, where is gained quite a lot of popularity. This film was originally created for entertainment but shows some educational value about drag queens and the gay community (not in great analysis, but at least exposure). It was directed by and written by a man named Stephan Elliot. The budget was not low, but it wasn’t high either, and the film was probably done somewhat for money.
The content of the movie is surrounded around the lives of these three drag queens. The poster shows that there is a long trip, hence the open space and a large bus. There seems to be a lot of adventure, since the women are dressed very extravagantly. Since the three main characters are on the cover and no one else, that explains that their relationship to one another will transform and grow. In the film it is learned that one of the drag queens is married and has a son. The reason that they went on the trip was thought to be for a show, but it is really to help out his wife at her casino. There are many messages in the film, however the drag queens run into a few problems surrounding acceptance from people in the towns they travel through, bus troubles and sexual violence. There is an interesting interaction between the Aborigine’s and the drag queens, where they dance together in the middle of the desert.
I don’t remember exactly the form of the film, such as the shots or how things were framed. The movie poster itself is deliberately laid out. The left hand side of the picture is open desert, with a blue sky. There is a tail of a costume that leads the eye up towards the bus, where a drag queen is stretched out, flying on top of the bus, creating an image of a great adventure. The bus is moving on a road, and as it moves forward the eyes are brought to the three drag queens surrounding part of the title “Priscilla�. The women are in high drag, with very colorful and extravagant outfits. The framing reads just as Westerners read, from right to left. The more important thing on the right. The bus isn’t centered, but that is to show the emptiness of the desert and the importance of the destination and the journey. The drag queens at the bottom are spread out, but they are positioned in a triangle and are primary colors, so they blend in with the background, but are still interesting to look at. The distance of the shot is an extra long shot and the angle is at eye level making the people relatable. Along with an eye level angle, the shot is a wide-angle shot that seems to make the eye pan from the left to the right, down to the title and to each of the drag queens. The lighting is very bright, and the colors are vivid and the washed out desert creates more of a focus on the strong image of the bus.
Taking a feminist analysis, there is a great amount of time spent on gender and the construction and performative qualities of gender, as drag queens are performing the female gender role, of what a woman is in an exaggerated manner. The performative nature of gender brings into account sexuality. There is an assumption that drag queens are either men who want to be women, are gay or are cross-dressers. The movie itself addresses many issues around sexuality, and identity. One of the drag queens identifies as a transsexual woman, one of the drag queens is married to a woman with a son, and the wife is not-straight, another drag queen is very flamboyant and I believe gay identified. The race of the main characters is of white men who are performing as women. There are issues of class, surrounding the struggling woman who is the wife of one of the drag queens. The poster raises interest in who these people are, what they are doing and what they are all about. The movie addresses this and goes more into detail of the context, content, form and feminist analysis.

Unpredictable "Teeth"

Judging by the poster alone, one can only wonder at the meaning of the words “Warning: Sex Changes Everything� in the context of the film Teeth. This poster advertises the 2007 independent film, which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. The film’s website announces that its protagonist, Dawn (played by Sundance Jury Prize for Acting winner Jess Weixler) is a chaste young woman coming to terms with her budding sexuality. Her first sexual encounters lead to her to the discovery that she has “vagina dentata� (a “toothed vagina�—the subject of myth in many cultures throughout history), a condition that at first horrifies her but soon comes to protect her from sexual violence. The film touts itself as being a “black-comedy horror film�.
teeth_movie_poster2.jpg

The film is both directed and written by Mitchell Lichtenstein, a veteran actor who makes his feature-length directorial debut with Teeth. He co-produces with relative newcomer Joyce Pierpoline (who is currently producing Lichtenstein’s next film). Of the team, Pierpoline is one of the only women aside from those in casting, makeup and costuming. German cinematographer Wolfgang Held works as the Director of Photography. The Weinstein Company, an independent studio founded in 2005 by two Miramax-expats, purchased the film after its Sundance premier.
This graphically simple poster depicts a young woman with a confused expression on her face, alongside the film’s title. On top she wears a ringer T-shirt with the tagline “Warning: Sex Changes Everything�, on the bottom, she presumably wears nothing while a gold shape covers her lower parts, reporting that the film is helmed by Mitchell Lichtenstein. She looks coy while one leg covers the other, to imply that she’s shielding her vagina. She is depicted from head to toe, rendering her entire body the subject of the image. Her clothing is youthful—her t-shirt is a common style, and she wears the popular sheepskin boots seen on many highs school students and college-age women.
The story of the poster is quite unclear—this looks like a typical, American-Pie style frat movie about sex and the blond women having it (or not having it, or withholding it from the men that want it, or giving it to whomever wants it… you get the idea). The poster may suggest that something happens to this woman after she has sex, something that “changes everything�, though it is unclear whether this implicates pregnancy, STIs or psychological trauma—it could mean any number of things. It is also somewhat unclear that this woman is the subject of the film- the sex could “change everything� for some protagonist who is not pictured, like other movie posters that depict only the woman of the subject’s interest (There’s Something About Mary comes to mind).
theres_something_about_mary.jpg
teeth_movie_poster2.jpg

The woman is stylized in a surreal way, surrounded by beaming light and standing next to a cartoonish font. The gold symbol circumscribing the director’s name nearly looks like a product sticker, making the image more toy-like. In all, the poster teases the onlooker with the promise of sex for this young woman , but does not divulge any major plot content.
The film’s true content certainly exceeds the expectations set up by this particular poster.
In the film, pro-abstinence high school student Dawn fights her emerging sexual urges while dating her boyfriend. He gets aggressive, she refuses to have sex with him, and he knocks her unconscious with the intention or raping her. While he is taking advantage of her, she wakes up, and in this moment her toothed vagina attacks her boyfriend, castrating him. She goes on to be sexually abused by the gynecologist from whom she seeks help, an older man who picks her up hitchhiking and finally her stepbrother, and all of these instances result in violence or castration. In the film, Dawn’s vagina does not attack in every sexual encounter, but is, in fact, under her control. She uses her power to protect herself from the sexual violence that men subject her to, but is allowed to have sexual fantasies and masturbate if she chooses. The film seems to take itself seriously in its daring, provocative depiction of manifest vagina dentata (the film’s website even offers a link to a support group for individuals with the very real vagina-dentata fear), but it professes to be a black comedy-horror film. It makes light of the vagina-dentata pathology, and I’m bewildered as to what it could possibly be trying to “say� (if anything).
To digress for a moment, it seems that this film plays into the male gaze to an extreme. Although the protagonist wields power over sexual violence (condemning the men who attempt to hurt her), she embodies the villain or “other� that men fear. I must note that I have not seen this film (though Wikipedia offers an extremely detailed plot synopsis), and the audience reviews I’ve read have been extremely varied. The trailer seems to encapsulate the horror-mood that the film claims to be aiming for, as does the DVD cover. The poster that I chose to analyze seems to get at the other extreme that the film aims for, which is comedy or light-heartedness. This poster seems to be aiming for the widest possible audience by watering down the film’s provocative content.
DVD Cover:
teeth DVD.jpg
Theatrical Trailer:

June 20, 2008

Category 3. Movie Poster

For this assignment, please do a feminist analysis of a movie poster of your choice. You can scan the cover of your favorite DVD in the FMC (instructions posted on the wall, front row, station against the wall), or borrow an image from the Internet.

This means, in your reading of this images considering CONTEXT (the who, what where, why, and how), CONTENT (what the POSTER tells the story of, and the story of the film [if you've seen it]), and FORM (framing, composition, color, etc).

Please post an 800 to 1000 word analysis to this blog by NOON on Monday, June 23.

Here's an excerpt of an example:

This image is the DVD cover of Women Behind the Camera, a documentary about women cinematographers in the U.S., Canada, China, France, Germany, India, India, Iran, Mexico, Russia, and Senegal. The film's website proclaims that the film shows women behind the camera from "other countries in a way never seen before". The film's director, Alexis Krasilovsky, is a documentary filmmaker, film scholar, and professor at Cal State Northridge.

The film is really important in that it shows women behind the camera as we've never seen before...

The film's form.... think framing, composition, rhythm, pacing of editing, etc...

June 19, 2008

Reflections

Hey everyone. I started my own blog for reflections on the course, and you can see it here.

Happy weekend.

Mind your media

You know it's been awhile since I've gone to the theatre, and I rarely rent. I have only a small laptop screen to watch on, and I find the experience uncomfortable. Mostly I wait until that nostalgic flick comes back to the uptown theatre, Back to the Future or some Tarintino reel and I'll ask a friend to go. If some auteur who has managed to gain his or her way into my heart, such as Kaufman, the Cohen Bros, Terry Gilliam, Wes Anderson, and the lot come out with a new movie, I may watch it if it comes highly regarded. Mostly I don't have patience for them. The amount of times I've walked out of a theatre feeling like no better of a person, only to think of the things I could have done instead has caused me to be weary of the movie as media in general. I'm hoping this class can help make it interesting again. We do currently have cable television at my house but I've been lobbying for awhile to get rid of it. I never watch it and it seems a waste of money. Mostly, when I watch anything, it's The Twilight Zone episodes I have on DVD that I got from a friend who was moving to China and wished to live lighter in general.

June 18, 2008

Remember the wall screens from Fahrenheit 451?

The radio is my main conscious exposure to media. Commercial media bothers me, consequently, I tend to tune toward stations with less commercials. KFAI and MPR stations do all right; However, my current favorite station is KMOJ, 98.9 "The Peoples Radio." They play a lot of R&B and some rap. I especially enjoy the weekends when they play older hip-hop and even some fusion and funk. One of my favorite things about the station, besides their rarely redundant play list, is their choice of commercials. With one exception, an ad for a music venue, I have never heard them advertise anything except public services and public safety information. For example, while MPR tells you be whom their commercial free radio is supported, KMOJ will let you know how important it is to breast feed your baby, wonderful!

I enjoy movie theaters, but I avoid block E and the like. Happily, I've found Minneapolis has a lot of great smaller theaters, some of them not so small. For example, my most recent film viewings have been at St. Anthony Main, the Riverview, the Lagoon and Uptown theaters. I've found the film selection to be more in line with what I look for in movies. Some months back, I enjoyed the international film festival.

Regarding television, I never make an effort to watch, and sometimes make an effort to avoid watching. It bothers me when I go to a bar or restaurant and there are televisions unnecessarily on. It bothers me especially because I often catch my eye wandering towards the flashing lights with their sparkly commercials. It embarrasses me that this thing I don't care for would distract me from engaging whoever I'm with. The foundation of my dislike for television was the realization that I had never finished watching television with any sense of satisfaction.

"Wow, It sure feels good to have just watched 4 episodes of Lost in a row." - no one, ever
Conveniently, after this realization a classmate mentioned she was going to buy a new TV after class, so I gave her mine. It worked out well for both of us. I could rant for hours on my dislike for television, though I still manage to watch an hour or so every month, through waiting for friends who have it on, and being constantly confronted with it. Last week, I saw a three inch screen playing Fox news in a gas pump.

Of course there's the unavoidable advertising in the open. Denny Hecker, with his bronzed body and sunken eyes, asserting, "No one walks!" I guess you can't read the advertisement while you're riding the bus, but still, it seems strange to advertise private autos on the back of public transportation.

Ah, The Megaplex!

I love the megaplex. The smell of new seats (the giant, stadium variety) coupled with tacky carpeting, cliché classic Hollywood paraphernalia and enormous snack counters brings me to a place that must be close to that elusive Heaven. The megaplex, to me, is the absolute best thing about being an American consumer. My love of the megaplex is negated only by the fact that I dislike most Hollywood movies, resulting in a twice-yearly trip at most. I should mention that I love art-house cinemas just as much, though nothing quite beats the delicious enormity of a consumer-laden giant. I go to the smaller theaters much more frequently, mostly the Landmark and independent varieties. I go to these theaters at least once a month to see a new film. I prefer independent films to “Hollywood� films, if just for plot and originality’s sake.

I see movies at home about once a week, and most of these I receive through Netflix. I also get some DVDs through the library, but this is less common because their selection is much smaller than that of Netflix. I watch these on my laptop, and sometimes on my friend’s projector. I never use my TV for watching movies, nor do I use my TV for watching television programs. At age 8 TV was a lifeline for me, but at 20 it has become a foreign object. I pay for cable because my 2 roommates want the service, but our TV remains a hollow, dead object most of the time. I’ll admit, in secret, I watch a few TV programs on the internet. These are not programs of quality or substance, but rather, in my opinion, are the lowest of the low kind of entertainment. I’m talking America’s Next Top Model on Youtube. I’m talking The Real World on MTV’s website (The Real World! Sacre Bleau!) I’m talking “Gossip Girl�, illegally, via Asian websites with cryptic type all over the page. I think of this habit as a secret, because I’m ashamed to be a consumer of these programs.
To address the question, “what does the media one consumes say about a person?� I have to answer that it can’t say much about a person. I’ll have to say that, or own up to my habits and adopt a practice of not taking myself too seriously. Although I enjoy the megaplex and brain candy television programs, I do not see myself as an especially “typical� American consumer. I support all things independent, from music and films to businesses. I think my secret love of the corporate and banal is my antidote to what has become what feels to me like an “indie-saturated� market, where “indie� is now “cool�, and I have to find some way to rebel. I would hate to admit that I’m exactly the same as the next American consumer, but perhaps it’s true.

Compulsory Consumption

My partner and I are looking at two bedroom apartments this Friday. It seems we need a separate room to store my TV, my DVD collection, and my computers (I get the feeling my red couch will end up in there too). Right now, I just don't use the TV too often-- when it's homework time (which is pretty much always) I put on my headphones and keep my noise to myself and my desk. I keep my four-at-a-time from Netflix constantly flowing, trading recommendations with my best friends (including my Mom and 14 year old sister). I've seen almost 1000 movies that I can remember. Childhood (before age 12 or 13) viewing is still, for the most part, hard to trace.

I try to find directors and check out as much of their filmography as I can. If I can't find it on Netflix...

I can definitely find it through some torrent search or on UseNeXT. Sometimes I have to fix the timing of the subtitles or try to repair a broken file, but it's no problem. Finally archiving a complete copy of Godard's "Vent D'est" (with subtitles!) on my external hard drive is extremely rewarding. I might need it someday, you know?

I'm a big proponent of watching while doing. During breakfast, we watch an episode of The Simpsons, Family Guy, or Six Feet Under. While I work at my desk, there is generally a small "always on top" window with VLC media player suppling my feed. I only need to really focus on a film if I need to read subtitles or I'm re-viewing for some finishing touch on an essay.

Recently, Daryush (who is at Espresso 22 in the Dinkydome EVERY DAY) started to share some of his rare DVD collection with me. I'm getting into some more old samurai flicks and claymation.

I think my viewing is becoming less about what I watch and more about how I watch it. I have to engage with what I see.

Consumption

I love going to the movies. That being said, I don’t go all that often. It probably boils down to about 3 times a month that I visit my local theatre. It isn’t an even rush throughout the year though. I tend to see a lot more movies in December and January as I am a bit of a snob and like to check out the indie and award baiting films that all hit mid-winter. I do however enjoy a good popcorn movie in an air-conditioned multiplex on a humid summer afternoon.

Aside from the theatre, I watch movies on my computer screen or on the projector that was donated to our house from a University of Minnesota dumpster. My roommates and I have designed our own little simulated theatre with red velveteen curtains, rope lights and stadium seated futons. (A childhood fantasy come true!)
Those are really my main venues for film watching. I don’t have a TV. I have an I-pod Video equivalent, but I can’t even remember the last time I used the video mode.
I love all kinds of movies. I cut my teeth on Hollywood fodder and between loving nostalgia and actual genuine love for the hypnotic brilliance of the system, I still really enjoy a lot of mainstream fare. I also grew up on comic books, so this new wave of blockbusters has been my candy colored fantasy for a long time. However, at this point, most of my trips to the theatre involve a Landmark marquee and some variety of independent or subtitle laden “entertainment�. I love the unpredictability that so many independent filmmakers infuse their films with. It’s overwhelmingly exciting.
I don’t know that there is much of a connection between who you are and what you watch. I am not of the belief that independent cinema makes you (or means you are) smarter or more refined. I think it’s as much a matter of exposure as it is a matter of taste. I don’t think that seeking out films for intellectual engagement says anything about you except that you are choosing to have a certain relationship with cinema, for whatever reason. I think watching films for the purpose of entertainment is as good a reason as any.

Couch Potato

I’m a couch potato. I watch WAY too many movies and TV. I rent from Netflix, usually the harder to find movies I watch come from there such as independent and foreign films, I live three blocks from a really cool movie theater that only has two screens, relatively cheap, they show smaller budget movies and really popular new releases. So I go to the theater sometimes, but not as much as I’d like to. I also have on demand from Comcast which means I get to watch lots of really old movies (they’re the free ones). But mainly I watch television shows on DVD or streamed from online. I have a relatively large movie collection that I also sample from; including tons of Disney movies on VHS (an entirely different feminist nightmare of its own).

Da media is to be sold, not to be told

The way I watch most of my movies nowadays is through Netflix. A few times I’ll throw down some watch it now joints that I’m fiending for but mostly I’ll just pop in what I get in the mail. It’s funny how you can tell what kind of kick you were on at certain times by what comes through Netflix. All of the sudden I’ll get a rush of documentaries, then old sci-fi films, then a bunch of anime, and to top it all of a bunch of foreign films.

I still go to movie theaters to see certain films that I’m really itching to see. I went and saw the new Indian Jones movie at the Heights Theater in Northeast, my favorite theater ever. Once in a while I’ll go peep some screenings at the U. The Asian American Studies department used to (not sure if they still do) show some newer Asian films and often showed older jump offs, on the Kurosawa tip.

I have cable TV but I don’t have all the movie channels though. Most of the time I have the TV on while I’m on my computer doing whatever and I’m really not paying much attention to what’s showing. I tend to watch next to nothing on cable except for a few select shows like 30 Days. Once in every blue moon AMC will run some crazy Death Wish marathon that I’m glued to because Charles Bronson is a stone cold bad ass. The shows I watch more attentively offer much more social significance and I’m able to grasp it much more than if I were to passively watch it like I do with most of the garbage that’s on TV now.


My Media Consumption

If I could I would love to watch all movies in a theater with a big screen, surround sound, lots of people all of us feasting with our eyes. In one of my favorite movies, The Dreamers, The main character describes why he likes to sit up front at the theater…

I was one of the insatiables. The ones you'd always find sitting closest to the screen. Why do we sit so close? Maybe it was because we wanted to receive the images first. When they were still new, still fresh. Before they cleared the hurdles of the rows behind us. Before they'd been relayed back from row to row, spectator to spectator; until worn out, secondhand, the size of a postage stamp, it returned to the projectionist's cabin. Maybe, too, the screen was really a screen. It screened us... from the world.


Unfortunately movies are expensive these days. I tend to watch all of mine through netflix, it exposes me to many different films and TV shows that I never would have found on my own. I also like to watch some British TV shows on youtube that don’t have regional DVDs, like skins…

I also don’t go to the theater because I don’t really like “Hollywood� movies, except for horror films. I like being scared in the theater because you are surround by people and safe, also the emotion is so palpable when other people are gasping and screaming with you, like being on a roller coaster.

I do not have cable. I like to get most of my daily news and world information from the TV. I watch The View, KSTP5, and Charlie Gibson world news.

The fact that I watch most of my movies and TV when I have time and when it is convenient reflects my busy life. Society in general has more options and choices than ever before for the ways they consume media.

June 17, 2008

My Film Watching Habits

I typically find myself watching films in the comfort of my own home more often than going to a theater. Maybe it is because of the high gas prices, or the cost to see a film at the theater is currently around $10/person, and being that I am a struggling college student, I cannot always afford to go to the theater. Or, maybe it is for the simple fact that I like to kick back and relax on my couch while watching a film, and I also like the idea of being able to pause (or stop) the film in order to take a bathroom break if need be. I normally like to rent movies through Netflix, or watch movies that I already own on DVD and yes, even VHS. I must admit, I do only watch “Hollywood� feature films, but it does not mean that I am not open to watching Indie short films. I have not had the opportunity to attend screenings on campus, or film festivals, but I would really like to in the near future. The films that I watch usually reflect upon my mood/and or interest in the film. Because of what, how, and where I watch films, I feel that it does affect my ability to read/understand the material due to the fact that I am not very knowledgeable with all of the media concepts.

I'm Not What You'd Call "in"

I do, indeed, consume my fair share of film, time permitting. My most common way of consuming film is in the comfort of my own home. We don't have a fancy setup with surround sound, though we do have a widescreen TV which I find makes my home viewing experience a little closer to what you'd see in the theater. There's no cable at my house, though we do get a few channels we're not supposed to (unintentional theft I suppose...and it was indeed a sad day when the National Geographic Channel disappeared). One of them is TBS, which likes to play the same @#$%@&*! movie three nights in a row.

When I find myself watching Legally Blonde for the upteenth time simply because it's on I know it's time to switch things up. I often like to watch DVDs from my own collection (which consists of a fair amount of TV shows, live concerts, and music videos on DVD) or I go out and rent something. I usually don't go for online viewing, except when I stayed on YouTube for over 4 hours watching rare interviews of my favorite band. The only time I really make it to the theater is when something new comes out that I'm willing to pay roughly $10 to see. Either that or my boyfriend begs me to see the next comic-to-film movie with him. I'm sure I'll be heading to the theater to see this one:

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One consistent time I'm at the theater is during the International Film Festival that takes place in the Twin Cities every year.

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It's sort of a tradition for my mom and I to peruse the catalog and pick out a few films to see together. I think the festival is a great way to see films from all over the world, and to step out of your comfort zone for a new experience. The movie theater itself is almost like taking that step for me, as I usually like to sprawl out in my PJs, grab a snack that's not horrendously overpriced, and sit back and enjoy the film free of background noise and with the option of pausing for whatever random reason.

The Cinematic Experience

What with the exorbitant price of gas and the rising prices of food—not to mention the fact that I am trying to pay for college—I find that I rent movies far more than going to a movie theater. At home, my family has a living room with surround sound, so I am able to attain some of the high quality movie theater sound. But at college, I am forced to watch movies either on my small television or on my computer. Watching movies on a computer is a completely different experience—I am constantly distracted by my roommate, people in the hallway, or the overwhelming desire to pause the movie and check out what’s new on youtube. But in a movie theater, with its dark atmosphere, enormous screen, and music blasting from the speakers, I am entirely engrossed in the film. An explosion in a film is far more effective when the floor rumbles underneath you from the sound’s vibrations—you not only see it, but you feel it.

When I watch a film in a theater, my mind and body are focused on what I am seeing, and my emotional responses are stronger as a result. For example, I grew up watching superhero cartoons like Superman, Batman, Spiderman, and X-Men. Every time a superhero movie comes to theaters, I jump at the chance to go see it. When Superman Returns came out, I practically ran to the theater, and I was not disappointed. The opening credits alone were worth paying the nine dollars; the audience is taken on a roller coaster ride through the cosmos, soaring past Jupiter and Mars, flying through space. Yet, when I rented the film months later, it did not have the same effect. I didn’t feel breathless or weightless or impressed. Watching the credits on youtube, you can understand my disappointment.

Part of my enjoyment for these films comes from my childhood, but a great deal of it derives from the cinematic experience. For actions films in particular, I find that a great deal of the impact is lost on audiences when the movie is watched in a home rather than in a theater. The only down side of watching a movie in a theater—and this is a big one!—is trying to watch while people are whispering, talking loudly, or snoring (which has happened to me numerous times). Interruptions like these will take me out of the film and will irritate me.

The movie theater used to be the place to go

The way I watch movies has greatly changed over time. When I was younger I used to go to the movie theater multiple times a month. I would buy my ticket, get a soda and bucket of popcorn and enter the dark theater and wait for the magic to start. Nowadays, I am lucky if a go to the theater a few times a year. I believe there are two reasons for this:

1. Infrequent/insufficient free time
2. Ticket prices are absurdly high

Even though I have cable TV, I do not have the movie channels. Therefore, I typically watch movies on DVD at home - or at a friend's house - on a TV. I don't have a large movie collection so if I do not have a movie that fits my mood I will either dig into my roommates' collections or see if a different friend has it. Rarely will I go to Blockbuster or Hollywood Video and rent a movie; I would rather buy a movie than rent one because then you own it forever. I will go to a movie theater - if time allows - if I REALLY want to see the specific movie (such as the newest Harry Potter movie).

While most of the movies I see are "Hollywood" films (generally ones that force me to use my mind like "Momento"), I prefer a good indie film. I prefer indie films because I believe it is important to support small budget projects. I also prefer them because the indie scene is important to me, being an indie artist myself. Presently I have not attended an indie film festival but I would love to go to one so...if anyone knows of one in/near Minneapolis let me know.

I don't go to the theaters anymore, I just press pause

When I was young my family would go to a movie every Wednesday night. We would grab the paper and look at what was playing. We had five options at most, and would argue about what we were going to see for the week. Soon after that we started renting movies. It was cheaper, we could watch more and we could pause for food or phone calls. The experience completely changed for me. It isn't a designated time to sit and enjoy a movie.

Now that I have my own place and my own family, I find that movies aren’t as important of an activity as they used to be. There aren’t any arguments about which movie to watch, just which one to watch first. With hundreds of choices and multiple ways of watching films, I fast forward thru a scene that’s boring, or decide that I want to watch something else thirty minutes into a film.

I used to have a treasured experience with film; a get away from life. This has disappeared, and I miss things being surrounded by distractions. Even watching a film in my living room with the lights off, my cell phone rings, or I check my e-mail. My attention and patience for storyline and relationship development has turned towards a demanding relationship. If I watch a film I need a plot that gives me instant gratification and continues to keep my attention.
Instead of running out of the theater doors to go to the bathroom, hoping I didn’t miss anything. Now I can pause a movie for hours. There’s something to be said about sitting in a dark theater and be completely soaked up in the moment on screen. For me that is just something that I used to do back in the day.

Assignment: Blog Post on Media Watching Habits

Post in Category 2. Media Watching blog post (5 points)
Post by NOON on Wednesday, 6/18

Details: In a 150 to 300 word post, consider some of the following questions:

How do you watch films (media)? Are you an avid theater goer? Do you have cable TV with all the film channels? Do you watch DVDs on a laptop while you ride the bus home? Do you download off itunes and watch on a video Ipod?

Do you only watch "Hollywood" feature films? Do you watch indie short films online? Do you attend screenings on campus, or film festivals in town?

What, in your opinion, might be the connection between who you are and what you watch. How might what, how, and where you watch media affect your reading/understanding of the material?

Feel free to link us to anything you are watching online!

Do you literally WATCH TV?


Xtra Credit: Name that Woman Filmmaker!

Here's the video clip of some US and international women filmmakers (that I was trying to play in class but it wouldn't work on the blog). So for some quick and easy extra credit points...

Earn easy extra credit points!:
Make a list of all the women directors you can think of (pictured in the clip, or not) in the comment field of this post.

What I've injested so far today

Hello blog, I apologize for the self importance of this post, but
I made a list of what I've injested today, in roughly chronological order; though I'll admit, everything between cheese and tortilla was kind of jumbled.

  1. black_tea.jpeg
  2. cheese.jpeg
  3. eggs.jpeg
  4. black_beans.jpeg
  5. onion.jpeg
  6. potato.jpeg
  7. tortillas.jpeg
  8. coffeebean.jpeg
  9. a red bartlett pear
  10. coffeebean.jpeg
  11. a red bartlett pear(I had two.)

The seward cafe is lovely.

10 movies I can watch over and over

These are in no particular order:

1. Shawshank redemption
2. Super Bad
3. V for Vendetta
4. Star Trek: First Contact
5. Mean Girls
6. Never Been Kissed
7. Bridget Jone's Diary
8. The X-Men movies
9. 300
10. 10 Things I Hate About You

10 DVDs to bring to a deserted island

(with your TV, DVD player, and solar powered generator)

1. 20 centĂ­metros

This movie is about the most fun you can have. It's a musical about a transwoman sex worker in Madrid. Don't believe the transphobia (or other offensive things) on IMDB.

2. The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky

If you love surrealism, spend a weekend with this set.

3. By Hook or By Crook

This could pass as a documentary about being queer in San Francisco.

4. Shortbus

This makes cheesy Hollywood sex look even worse.

5. Mirrormask

This is not just for kids.

6. Y Tu Mamá También

I've seen this almost too many times.

7. Battle Royale

The violence is smart AND gratuitous.

8. The Hole (2000 As Seen By...)
What can I say? I have a weakness for odd foreign language musicals.

9. American Beauty

I saw a reflection of my high school angst that I'll never forget.

10. Pi
Darren Aronofsky is my hero.

Good movies

So, I like these movies:

1. Waking Life
2. I <3 Huckabees
3. Memento
4. Brazil
5. The Brave Little Toaster
6. Soccer Dog
7. Science of Sleep
8. Taxi Driver
9. Reservoir Dogs
10. Doctor Strangelove

Top Ten Replay Movies

I have so many movies I like from so many different genres it's hard to think of a Top 10. So, I decided to think of 10 movies I enjoy watching over and over. Here they are, in no particular order:

Raise the Red Lantern
The Royal Tenenbaums
Ghost World
Monty Python and the Holy Grail
Almost Famous
SLC Punk
Double Indemnity
The Nightmare Before Christmas
Clerks
What's Eating Gilbert Grape

Ten Things Spinning My World

1. The Nintendo 64 Kid Remix!
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2. Radio K!
Radio K.gif
3. David Sedaris!
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4. Sleeveface!
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5. Comic Books
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6. Playing the guitar.
7. Sufjan Stevens!
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8. This AMAZING animation.
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9. Biking
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10. Fleet Foxes
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So that's my list. Ten things that floated to the top of my head. My name is Carl, and I'm excited to be here.

June 16, 2008

Lovely Films

Cidade de Deus
The Graduate
Some like it hot
The Dreamers

the dreamers
All the Real Girls
Y tu mama tambien
A Bout de Souffle
&agrave; bout de souffle

The Breakfast Club
Les Quatre cent Coups
La Mala Educacion

bad education
A Little Princess

I mostly like films that are visually appealing using distinct colors or nature and have strong, layered themes about human choice and spirit. For entertainment and comedy I like Billy wilder films.

Top 10 treasures

The first two are my ABSOLUTE favorites...the others are in no particular order.

1. The Usual Suspects (Kevin Spacey = pure gold)
2. Almost Famous
3. Once
4. Little Miss Sunshine
5. The Royal Tenenbaums
6. The Life Aquatic (Wes Anderson = love)
7. Newsies
8. Harry Potter/The Lord of the Rings (separate movies yes but might as well be clumped into one slot)
9. Princess Bride
10. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade

Top 10 Things That Are Great As Of Late

In no particular order:

1. The New Sigur RĂłs single, Gobbledigook
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2. Nice Weather!

3. Alec Soth photo exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (go!)
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4. Tom Jones' Greatest Hits on vinyl
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5. Obama
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6. Twin Peaks
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7. This LOL cat
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8. The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
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9. Lemonade
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10. Dairy Queen
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Well there you have it. These are things that are awesome right this very second, in my opinion. Go drink some lemonade outside, why don’t you? It’s summer!

My name is Anna and I love music, books, movies, biking and candy (I love other things, too, but space and time are limited. Sorry, family.) I’m planning to be an English teacher in the not-too-distant future, but I’m right now pursuing an English degree with a minor in GWSS. I’m excited to take this course to learn more about how women have been portrayed in film prior to and in response to the women’s movement.

10 things i like

1.Movie: 'Dreams'
2.Floating on lakes
3.Installation pieces with large blue glass christmas lights
4.Bk: Zen & the Art of Motorcycle Maintenence
5.James Baldwin
6.Pastle Bright Yellow
7.New York
8.Rocks and Crystals
9.Dance is favorite artform
10.Soft Butches like my partner Jen

My Favorite Top 10 Films

In no particular order, here is a list of my favorite top 10 films:

1. Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

2. The Goonies

3. Meet the Parents

4. Memoirs of a Geisha

5. Death Proof

6. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

7. The Notebook

8. Old School

9. The Wizard of Oz

10. Saw

Films I Absolutely Love

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
The Hours
Monsoon Wedding
The Illusionist
Chocolate
Pan's Labyrinth
Waitress
Secretary
Sweetland


No list would be complete without a few Hollywood romantic comedies:

French Kiss
You've Got Mail
While You Were Sleeping
The Lakehouse

I love British films, especially anything by BBC:

North and South (BBC miniseries--I highly recommend it!)
Persuasion
Sense and Sensibility
Pride and Prejudice
Emma

(I'm an English major, so I worship anything by Jane Austen)

Some of my favorite books are: Pride and Prejudice by Austen, A Turn of the Screw by Henry James, and the short story "A Small Good Thing" by Carver. Not too long ago I got to see the Voom exhibit in Iowa City, and I loved how the artist combined film with portrait to create a moving picture. It was very unique, and a new art form I hope to see more of in the future.

10 Movies

10 Movies that I can't watch enough, in no particular order

Metropolis
The Seventh Seal
Citizen Kane
M (1931)
Nosferatu
The Third Man
Boyz n the Hood
Rashomon
Winter Light
Alexander Nevsky

J's Top Ten List of Movies that I grew up watching

1. Goonies
2. Beetle Juice
3. Princess Bride
4. Little Monster
5. Corrina, Corrina
6. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
7. Labyrinth
8. Drop Dead Fred
9. Roger Rabbit
10.Time Bandits

Rachel's Top 10 List

Welcome to the course!

This blog is a space where we can build, connect, and share ideas. Our first assignment asks you to introduce yourself. Give us a top 10 list of your favorites or least favorites.

You could give us a no frills list like this:

1. The Professional
2. Say Anything
3. Breakfast Club
4 I Like It Like That
5.Senorita Extraviada
6. Nobody's Business
7. Every Mother's Son
8. HGTV
9. CSI, Law & Order type shows, even Forensic Files and the First 48
10. ER (I love to rent the whole season DVDs and watch episode after episode

OR

You could post with more details (images and links, if you know how. & I will show you in class this week!):

Hollywood / Indie movies:

1. The Professional (also called Leon) - action, assasinations, and love sort of love story where milk drinking assassin falls in love with pre-pub teen


Watch a clip (from youtube):

June 15, 2008

Assignment 1: Introduction / Top 10 List

PLEASE
Post under Category: 1. Introduction / Top 10 List [to receive credit]


!!! Post an introduction to yourself – remember this is a public blog, so don’t reveal details of your “real� identity if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. If this is the case, create an alias (so that your real name and/or x500 are not displayed). [see instructions below]


Assignment Details:

Post your introduction to the class. This could be your “top 10� list of the films you love to watch repeatedly, or the films you detest the most. Feel free to post links to the film’s website, photos or anything that let’s us know about what you are watching, reading, listening to, and/or thinking about.


If you have a personal blog, link us!

+ + +

REMEMBER, if you don't want your real name / x500 listed below your entry, create an alias display name:
1. Click on “Log into UThink� (on the top right).
2. Sign x500 and pw.
3. Click on the link to your x500 (on the light bluish grey bar, very top right of the screen)
4. Enter your chosen alias in the “Display Name� field
5. Save changes

Welcome to the Course!

Welcome to the public blog for the summer 2008 course "GWSS 3307 - Feminist Film/Media Studies: On Media, Representation, and Women Who Make Movies". This course is newly designed this term to include lots active learning (see this, this and this for examples). I have been thinking a lot about feminist pedagogy, media literacy and teaching/research/learning with technology.

We will post frequently to this blog. Students are assigned 6 mandatory posts throughout the course, but are encouraged to post more for extra credit and for fun! We also have a myu portal course website (but that's a private space for enrolled students only).

As Instructor (and Instructional Designer) I encourage students to write beyond our isolated classroom community. My hopes are to teach students to think, speak, and write critically but responsibly, and to connect our thoughts, ideas, and work to the world, thus - this blog.

I'm asking the students to read rebecca's pocket guide to weblog ethics but if you have a good site or guide for new bloggers and students, please link us!

Hopefully this blog will be a productive and creative collaborative space.

Looking forward to a great term!

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-Rachel