April 14, 2008

super freaky

Sheryl Hoover's experience on the road trip best holds up the All-American stereotypes placed upon a white family on the road. Through everything, she is the support that holds her family together. Before they even get to the road, she invites her brother (Frank) to stay with the family. She accepts him being gay and suicidal, and gives him the support system that he seemingly needs. Sheryl is the one to comfort Dwayne on the road, when he finds out that he is colorblind and will never make it into flight school. She believes in Olive throughout everything, even when everyone else reaches the pagent and realizes that maybe Olive doesn't fit in with all of these creepy, little pagent girls. In the end, her whole family seems to follow in her love and acceptance and get up on the stage to dance their hearts out.

February 25, 2008

In Search of Angela Shelton

This film is about the director herself whose name is Angela Shelton and who has been abused by her dad. Through out the movie, she travels around America in search of others Angela Shelton, others who have been abused like her, and others whose name is just Angela Shelton. She decides to make this film, when she is drunk one night..i think. That's how she sounded like. It must have been really tough for the others Angela Shelton, because some of them called the director back and told her that they didn't want to hurt their family members by telling what happened to them on a film. To me, the whole thing seemed like an act. especially the director's acting or whatever. I know that this is a serious issue and still exists in corners of America, but the film was just hard to believe in. It had too much drama that I couldn't really handle it and left the room.

February 24, 2008

Naming the Nameless

“We are led to pose the woman question to history in quite elementary forms, like, ‘Where is she? Is there any such thing as woman?’ At worst, many women wonder whether they even exist. They feel they don’t exist and wonder if there has ever been a place for them. I am speaking of woman’s place, from woman’s place, if she takes a place.? (Cixious, 43)

I found Searching for Angela Shelton to be very thought provoking and interesting. I felt that the road functioned as a connecting link that somewhat bridged the gap between these women who had very different, yet similar experiences. Angela traveled the road from one woman to the next and told their stories as a tool for both personal closure and for giving a voice to women around America. I think that the road was also used to represent the fact that women from all walks of life and all parts of our country face abuse and trauma. I personally feel that what Angela Shelton did was very brave and that she used her camera power responsibly. I can understand that many students may believe that she exploited the women in the film and opened up old wounds, and in some ways I don’t disagree. However, I feel that the results of the film were extremely powerful and gave a voice to many women. For example, the anonymous Angela Shelton said “I’m invisible, really? and “I’m nobody?. This shows how this woman completely lost her sense of self and her identity was ripped apart as the result of abuse. This film gave her an identity in a way, and by doing so, it also provided women around the country with a sense of self and a voice. If I were Angela, I would have focused more on the women I was interviewing and I would have emphasized the idea that the purpose was to tell their stories. However, she had a personal journey to take, and although she may have emphasized it too strongly at some points, she used her own story as a tool to reach out to others.

February 22, 2008

Is it possible to live a life on the road?

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).

I know many have already used this quote to begin their blogs, but I couldn't help but to use it because it encompasses exactly what I think of the two films. The last word I would use to describe Vagabond would be romanticized. At no point during my viewing of the film did I think Mona was being portrayed as physically appealing. The men in Easy Rider had their rugged good looks and the rebel attitude going for them, while Mona appealed as a free spirit, but her rugged looks were far from good. While the men in Easy Rider find it hard to find initial places to stay, Mona is not turned away until after she stays a while in a specific place. People tend to feel empathy for her rather than the men. She is not seen as a threat but of more of a nuisance. As far as the characters in Vagabond are concerned, a woman should not be traveling alone because it is dangerous. The characters in Easy Rider think that the men themselves are dangerous. The men in Easy Rider are also not starving and they get there money from drugs. Mona never has much money and she simply gets petty handouts. She is traveling in the cold winter time and the men travel in the comforts of summer. While the men must guard their lives from people who disagree with their choices, she must also defend the sanctity of her body. She is striving to survive in the wild while Billy and Wyatt are simply trying one way of living. It is living versus survival between Mona and the motor boys.

Although there are mass amounts of differences between the two films, I think that the similarities lie in the reasons for the journey and the effects of the journey. Both Mona and the men are looking for a way to live outside of the constraints of society. They travel from town to town and meet new people who help them of hinder them in some way. Neither of them ever seem to get comfortable in any one place and therefore must always keep moving. They aren't searching for a place to live, but for a way to live. Both films end with the tragic deaths of the main characters. However, the final difference of the two films is that the death of the Easy Riders is involuntary and the result of an act of hate. Mona is because of the elements and also partly because she gives up. She chooses to lay in the ditch and not get up.

February 18, 2008

Vagabond vs. Easy Rider

"Film, unlike theatre, is the absent spectacle-the spectacle of absence. In this respect, therefore, it would seem to provide the perfect vehicle of expression for women as filmmakers and makers of feminist films." (Hayward 287)

In Vagabond, there is a seemingly weak and weary woman who cannot depend on herself when it comes to fulfilling the basics of life. She needs others to get food and to get from one place to another and is almost completely dependent upon other people, if not men, to sustain her life. Wyatt and Billy from Easy Rider have it easy compared to Mona. They not only have a nice ride full of money, but they are two men who are purely out for a fun and carefree roadtrip to find themselves without knowing it. They can depend on themselves and if not, they can woo most girls into getting them what they need. Although both films take place on the road, wide and open, these two movies are completely opposite in message. Vagabond has a struggling woman as the main character but even though she is struggling, she is not as misused as other female characters we have seen on previous movies. The camera does not look at her in a perverted way or anything even close; if anything it shows the condition she is in to help guide the story and create a sense of sadness about her character. In the other movies we've seen, the woman are either submissive and willing to bow down to most of men's needs, or they are looked upon as a stupid, airy sex toy on a bike. At least in this film Mona has some sense of being a female without all the little perks that some men hand out to women still today on a day to day basis. In the same sense, though, maybe the director is making a more obvious hint that although women have defeated the sexual submission in films, there are still the obvious daily feats that they have to face before they can really get on top. Maybe the director is appluading the fact that women have become more accepted but is booing the fact that women (and I'm talking about at the time these films were made) are still shot down and dependent on everybody else, seemingly. Billy and Wyatt would have nothing to complain about if they ever saw Mona on their trip.

Easy Rider vs. Vagabond

"The goatherd gives Mona shelter on his farm, offering her a job and the chance to work the land. But unlike Wyatt in Easy Rider, Mona is not so impressed with the idea of working on a farm. On a strictly impulsive (rather than rational) level, she seems averse to any form of stability or domesticity," (Laderman 269). Easy Rider and Vagabond have many more differences than similarities. One difference is that Mona is scrutinized for being a woman, if nothing else where Billy and Wyatt are scrutinized for the way that they live. Billy and Wyatt have a destination in mind when they hit the road where Mona is just traveling around with no final destination. In Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy have to travel together, whithout one there is no other whereas in Vegabond, Mona cannot travel without leaving the people she meets behind. She is destined to be alone where Wyatt and Billy are destined to never be apart. Some similarities between these films is that the main characters are on the move the majority of the time and in both films there is talk about how important working the land is. Gender has a lot to do with how these films are perceived. In Vegabond, the camera is trained to move and leave the main character behind. She is not seen as important and can be easily left or forgotten whereas in Easy Rider, the camera follows the main characters, they are the center of the movie, what they do is deemed important but what Mona does or what happens to Mona doesn't really matter. Mona is also seen as a male chaser which is similar to how Billy and Wyatt are perceived (female chasers). It seems to be an endearing quality for Billy and Wyatt as a bad quality for Mona.

Easy Rider/Vagabond

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).
The only real similarity between the movies Easy Rider and Vagabond are that it is categorized as a “road movie?, otherwise these films are drastically different. For instance, in the movie Vagabond, Mona is someone who has given up on her once socially acceptable life, and has chosen this new path as a way of looking for something - what exactly she is looking for was very unclear, and possibly she did not know herself. However, in the film Easy Rider, Wyatt and Billy are in search of an America that will accept them for who they are, to be accepted outside of the norms of American life. Moreover, Wyatt and Billy’s adventure was shown in a more free-flowing way, they had money and food to travel and ride on through to new places. In Vagabond, Mona was shown as a female who was dependent on finding someone along the way to help her get from point A to point B. Yes, she herself did a job here and there for a piece of food or some money, but she was still dependent on others for a place to sleep, a ride, or extra food. This idea of the movie that a female needs help from a male or another female kind of angered me because it is still viewing and showing females as helpless, and if we were to go out on our own things would not be pretty. Furthermore, Mona who is displayed as a very dirty, ugly, disgraced female was still subjected to sexual abuse/rape. This idealistic of females not being able to take care of themselves and needing to stay in the realm of civilization to be safe and taken care of is one that still is shown in many ways today.


“…life on the road for a woman does not offer the same adventure and romance as a man.? (Laderman 265)

Life on the road for Mona Bergeron wasn't as easy as the men in Easy Riders. Similar to both movies the main character(s) both ended in their death. Vagabond started the movie with the end of Mona's life, but Wyatt and Billy ended the movie in their death. Wyatt and Billy had people pay attention to them both positive and negative. For example the group of girls who gave them much attention, but the group of guys who made very rude remarks at them. While Mona did get some attention there were times where people didn't even pay any particular attention to her and some of the people regretted not speaking to her. For example the woman who did like having Mona as company as did Mona driving around, and the professor who tried to help her grow a potato field and make a life for her. In the end she left them to continue her journey on her own. She even said herself that she likes to be alone. Mona had an encountered with a hooker. The hooker asked her if she wanted to sell her body for money, but she stuck to her standards and refused to do it. As for Billy and Wyatt who had ladies that were usually there for them.

In both movies neither character(s) seem to not have a home, but it seem like the open road was a home for them. I believe in the end Mona had a more difficult journey than Wyatt and Billy did. The two men got to experience the road while on their motorcycles with much attention from people who liked them and from those who didn't like them. Mona did not have anything on her no vehicle just her backpack and some people’s encounters with her. She did find some run ins with nice people who tried to help her the best they can and some rough encounters they terrifies her ending in her death.

Vagabond: A Means To An End

... the effect is to unfix the gaze, to render it inoperable...

Mona, through her time on the road, has managed to escape being a victim of the male gaze. The camera, through the tracking shots, never is centered on her in a sexualized way. Often, rather than a voyeuristic angle for the shots, it seems like documentation. Mona achieves this through her complete disregard for the wants, needs, and expectations of other people. She does not want to work, pay, or commit to anything. Mona inspires people, yet through these means, her time expires. She is unable to maintain her way of life, unable to escape the realities of the road, of nature. She dies, without an explosion and a shiny piece of mechanical splendor, but rather, dirty, cold, scared, and tired.

I must include both film titles in this string of gibberish.

Ruth Hottell quotes that "the Woman is central insofar as the woman's desire is the central problem or challenge for the male protagonist." This is a nice summary of the typical perspective of the andocentric narrative film. As in Easy Rider, the woman is the function of the male desire, not even its end. Even the sexual pleasure that he can take from her is momentary, and seems to separate her body from herself, as with Mona in Sans toit ni loi. Mona is so abnormal and ephemeral, removing herself from the typical physical aspects of human life and clinging to the essential: hunger, for substance as much as sustenance. The men that surround her can't understand this need for vagrancy, the compulsion of the wind to keep her moving. All they want from her is her body, what it can do. Wyatt in Easy Rider has that same nomadic tendency, that same essential and feral approach to life. Their characters are remarkably similar. What is different is both their approach and their end. Wyatt uses a traditionally "male" vehicle, and tears through the filmic space with all the phallic power he possesses. Mona has no vehicle, no power except herself. The problem herein is that the outside system is the same. Wyatt works within the male-dominated system, trying to explore, understand, and perhaps change it. Mona cares nothing for what's already organized in society. "Without roof, without laws," she is separate and therefore independent.

But they both died. Wyatt's complacence and decadence don't take him anywhere new, not really. So when he and Billy are killed by the motorist, it's more of a misunderstanding than a poetic downfall. The drivers were the stereotype of systematic male, and couldn't accept or understand a different appearance of male. Their deaths are significant but only in the wantonness of a couple of redneck idiots taking out their heteronormal, homoerotic frustration. Yet Mona, all fey and momentary, is a reality unto herself. What frustrates me is that I can't decide what her death means, what caused it. In a spiritual sense, of course. There is the foreshadowing of the road taking a person over and killing them, and then there are the constant attempts of all who meet her to plant her somewhere, in something, to normalize and therefore possess her. The difficulty that I have is that Mona herself is a changeling. She is at once as unsturdy as the wind and more real than any other person in the film. Of course she had to die. But what poetic can explicate it best? Was it that she was a woman? Or that she was more than man or woman could ever simply be defined, and the jealousy of the collective took its toll?

Vagabond vs. Easy Rider

"Vagabond is a compelling and disturbing portrait of a young single woman, Mona Bergeron, living on the road, drifting with no place to call home, nor any desire to claim one." For some reason, life on the road doesn't seem to have the same sense of adventure for a woman, as for men. In Easy Rider despite the fact that they were just drifting, they still had a destination in mind. They also still managed to find all sorts of adventures to go on, and interesting people to meet. Mona can't really say the same... in Easy Rider people looked at the men as though they were wild, but the women loved it. Mona on the other hand, was looked at as a slut, people felt bad for her- even though she was doing it by choice. People viewed the men vs mona different simply because she is a woman. It seems to me that in Easy Rider they went looking for America in a sense, the kind of America free from civil society- they were looking for freedom in America. Mona wasn't looking for anything exactly, she simply tuned in, and dropped out of conventional society. And she really wasn't very motivated to find work or do anything to better her situation. Being a woman on the road, I can imagine, is much scarier than being a man.

The Danger of the Road

"Varda subverts the traditional codes of classical narrative cinema which dipicts man as the gender on the move and women as static." (Hayward, pg. 288).
Easy Rider established that, for men, the road can be mean both their freedom and their ultimate destruction. In Vagabond, we get the chance to see what the road can mean for a woman, and surprisingly, it has a very similar result. Both movies emphasis the freedom that is associated with being on the road, and both show the fatal results of living on the fringes of society. Apart from this basic concept, the journey of the characters in these movies is vastly altered by their gender. In Easy Rider, the men controlled their own freedom which was symbolized by their motorcycles. However, in Vagabond, Mona is forced to rely on others for trasportation which dramatically limits her own freedom and makes her much more vulnerable. So while their journeys were very different, their ends were similar, and why is this? It is because, regardless of gender, the road is a dangerous place. These dangers are not exclusively limited to men or to women, but confront all people who take to the road. By making the woman mobile, we are able to realize that it is not a matter of gender, but a matter of human nature.

With and Without Wheels

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romaticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies... do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter." (Laderman 267)

The leads in both Vagabond and Easy Rider are societal outcasts. Billy, Wyatt and Mona have no place to call home and are shunned by "normal" culture. All encounter situations where they are ostracized and pushed away from civilization, though the extent to which this occurs differs between movies. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt are on the open road, free to travel where they please with plenty of money to get them to their destination. While they are not welcome in some places, such as the diner, there are plenty of people who romanticize them, including the girls in the diner. They are the new masculine, that has yet to be accepted everywhere. Mona, on the otherhand, is at the bottom of society, and there is no niche for her to fill, no place for a woman drifter to survive. She has no money and must accept odd jobs to earn a few bucks or a ride to her next destination. While she is idealized by Yolande, who thinks she is perfectly free and in an ideal relationship, this is a rare occurance. Yolande is later proven wrong when she crosses Mona's path again, realizing that Mona is unsettled and has no true companions. Mona lacks feminity, partly in an attempt to survive on the open road. Nothing about her is romanticized and it is as if she barely occupies a place on earth. She is unable to take any opportunity to settle down, no matter that she may have dreams of leading a "normal" life. This happens at the goat farm, where she is offered a plot to farm and a place to stay, but she has no work ethic and is kicked out. She is a dirty drifter who, as a female, has no chance of reentering society. Billy and Wyatt, as sexualized males on motorbikes, occupy an edge position in society, while Mona, a dirty, unfeminine drifter has no place in European culture.

Female nomads are confusing, male nomads are heroic...

... but neither of them are really accomplishing anything.

“But what does freedom on the road really mean? Here, something other than the American Road movie portrays. Something more difficult, less attractive, less free. Read through Vagabond’s lens, the freedom symbolized by the American road movie turns out to be idealized ruse, an ideological construction? (Driving Visions, 268).

It seems that in both Easy Rider and Vagabond, the protagonists take to the road to escape whatever it is in normative society that conflicts with them. In Easy Rider, the protagonists opt on to the road, searching for a sense of self and a sense of freedom. Laderman argues that Vagabond dismantles the freedom myth created and romanticized in Easy Rider, but I would argue that Easy Rider reaches a similar conclusion.

To me, the absurd way that the two protagonists die in Easy Rider says that the new freedom they thought they had found is an illusion after all, since those still within bounds of normative society (the men from the small town) bring their journey to an end. In Vagabond, Mona is forced on to the road, presumably because she was outside the bounds of normativity and needed to escape some type of restricting force (law, family, etc). So, different narratives with the same conclusion – that you’re never really free (and if you are, its not all that great).

Gender plays a role in how the stories are told. In Easy Rider, the men are forcefully navigating themselves in a specific direction, motivated to continue their journey and experience more of “life?. In Vagabond, the female protagonist chooses her nomadic lifestyle, but allows others to choose where she goes and lacks direction. Her wandering is empty and without motivation and difficult for those who encounter her to figure out. In Easy Rider, the traveling men as less questioned and more understood (and often admired) by the people they encounter. Only in what Laderman refers to as Mona’s encounter with the American road movie mentality is her lifestyle ever admired. In all other parts of the film her mobility and lack of emotional connection to people is confusing, perhaps because it is contrary to normative ideas of what women should want.

Mona is one tough chick

These movies are similar in the fact that the main characters seem to rebel against any sort of "normal" life, which ultimately leads to their death. They do not want to be confined to a life living under the same roof, working the same job, following the rules of society, etc. They wanted something else. On the other hand Mona didn't have a "something else." She did not seem to have any passions, dreams or motivations, or even a final destination, where as Wyatt and Billy had a goal in mind, to get to New Orleans.

"Such hardcore hardship is almost unthinkable in an American road movie" (Laderman 268).

Another difference is the simple fact that Mona, was alone with no permanent form of transportation. Billy and Wyatt were partners on the road, buddies, companions, support to one another, and they both had motorcycles to get them to their destination. It also seemed as though they had enough money to survive, buy gas etc. Her experience was less glamorous. She was filthy, poor, and hungry. She was treated with little respect by men, such as the truck driver who expected sex in exchange for giving her a ride. She had the hardest time just surviving through the days. Like most women being looked upon by the male gaze, she was not the usual image of sexuality and beauty.

Vagabond/ Easy Rider

... to place a painterly reference alongside a cinematic one is to represent immobilism and movement simultaneously.

Reading this quote made me think of scenic shots within Easy Rider and Vagabond. There was something peaceful yet morbid about those types of shots in both movies. In Easy Rider, the main characters traveled across the country to go to New Orleans. Its obvious that there is movement occuring, but the immobolization seemed to start when they started in their drug trip. The constant filmatic shots in the graveyard was eerie. They seemed stuck in the graveyard moving from tombs to statues. Vagabond, had a deathly feel as well. The scenery held a deathly gloom everywhere Mona went. As she traveled through different towns, she never got too far from where she started. Death was stalking her, only allowing her to go so far before she died. I think the role gender played within both movies was the way the characters died in the films. The men in Easy Rider died from a violent act whereas Mona (a white woman) died peacefully and quietly. If she died violently, would it have affected the impact she left on the other people she met? Would they have cared about her any more or less? And yet to have two white men be killed on their motorcycles would obviously cause much more of an uproar, ironically.

Reasons for Being on the Road: Mona vs. Billy and Wyatt

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter
(Laderman, 267).

In the movie Vagabond, we met Mona, a hopeless drifter who gave up what we assume is what a socially acceptable life, with a career and an education, to become a social outcast. This movie introduced to us a different idea of why people feel the need to travel the road. In Easy Rider, the main characters, Billy and Wyatt, are traveling along their road to find a new kind of social acceptance, they are searching for an America that will accept them for who they are, and what they represent. Mona is searching for nothing. She is not looking for social acceptance of herself. She has willing left behind a normal life to live on the road, scavage and beg for food, and help from strangers. She smells terrible, indicating that she has left behind more than just a socially acceptable life, she has left behind the social accepted idea of hygiene as well. On screen she does not look sexy, or dashing, or offer us a life that we might secretly envy. With Billy and Wyatt, there was a feeling that they were doing something right, they were defining the norms of society in order to be themselves. With Mona there is no such glamor. She is simply a wandering vagabond, not searching for anything specific, or moving with a greater purpose in mind, she is just moving from place to place in search of her basic needs, food and shelter. This idea in itself seems very rare, females are usually portrayed in films to have many ulterior motives for they actions. They are looking for a man or looking for someone to take care of them, they very rarely are able to met the basic human needs on their own, men are always introduced into the picture to help take care of them, or to provide them with some basic need. Mona needs no one to help her do this, in fact she willing leaves the care of men multiple times. While her circumstances certainly do not improve after she does this, it shows that she is able to provide for herself on her own, a new idea for females in film.

Rider v. Vagabond

"This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly distrurbing homeless drifter "(Laderman, 267).

Mona is much different than the main men of "Easy Rider" in the sense that her sort of drifting is frowned upon, she is pitied by people. In "Easy Rider" Wyatt and Billy are almost respected or admired by some of the people they meet. Their drifting symbolizes freedom. In "Vagabond" several people say "poor girl" about Mona. The professor and the caretaker of the old woman both "feel bad" for her and treat her as a charity case. No one does this for Wyatt and Billy. Also, it could be argued that all 3 character want to be on the road, it is a choice. Mona is offered places to stay but continues drifting. Yet, "Easy Rider" portrays our motorcycle cowboys as rebels almost, and they always have money to eat, buy gas ,etc. It is as if they had a plan, or at least the funds to be on the road. We see Mona as hungy a lot throughout the film, as well as sometimes stealing. "Easy Rider" has the audience admiring the drifters, even the camera shots and music encourage this. "Vagabond", on the other hand, has the audience shaking their heads at Mona. She is alone, dirty, hungry. People offer her assistance but in the end she is lazy and abuses the handouts she receives. The film opens with her lying dead and continues to tell her story with camera shots that do not even deem her very important, as well as sort of eerie music. These two films tell the story of three very different "riders" of the road.

women have all the luck...

"Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highways on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wreaking subversive havoc" (Driving Visions, p. 267).

Gender seems to have a great deal to do with the differences between Vagabond as a road movie and American road movies, such as Easy Rider. While the road is a dangerous place for anyone who travels (note the various sketchy situations Billy and Wyatt got themselves into in Easy Rider), it is even more dangerous for a woman like Mona in Vagabond. Mona is a realistic view of the traveller -- she is unwashed, disheveled, with few possessions, no money, no ambition, no goal (except to keep moving), and no means of getting to where ever she is going, and extraordinarily apathetic. All of this, in combination with her gender, put her at greater risk than any of the previous protagonists we have so far encountered. She is literally at the mercy of any person who crosses her path, with the majority of those who she encounters exploiting (or attempting to exploit) her sexuality in exchange for their assistance. Many times, Mona would give herself to someone in exchange for a safe place to camp, while other times, the men she encountered would just take what they wanted (like the farmer who raped her). Because of her lack of funds, Mona lacks the ability to control her own destiny, with the exception of making the decision to pick up and leave in order to encounter the next person who may or may not attempt to exploit her. Now, contrasting this with the various adventures of Billy and Wyatt in Easy Rider and the tame-by-comparison reception they received (the farm, the commune, Mardi Gras), the depiction of Mona as a traveller is in far less a romantic light.

Mona vs. Billy and Wyatt

The similarities of Vagabond and Easy Rider pretty much stop at the fact that both groups/individuals are outcasts that are in search for something. However, Wyatt an Billy seem to have and advantage over Mona in the fact that they are "independent" in their travels. They have their motorcylces to travel, whereas Mona has to depend on other people to travel. This could infer that women are inferior to men because she has to rely on others, which fits a common stereotype of women always needing protection.

Billy and Wyatt also seem to have and "easier" time getting places because they are male. Even though they aren't accepted in normal society, they are less vulnerable because they are 1. in a group and 2. they are male. Mona being by herself and a female is more "in danger" as in the scene with the purple guys dressed as trees.

Riding or walking, still a Drifter

Both "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" follow the paths of different drifters in their quest for freedom, but that if pretty much where the similarities end. Wyatt and Billy have a seeming advantage over Mona in the fact that they at least have their bikes to keep them company and assist in their travels. Their trip signals a quest for freedom and the open road for adventure. Whereas the French view of the road trip on which Mona embarks is not necessarily freedom and openness. She is an outcast of a different sort. Like the female she is, she has to rely on men to pick her up and feed her, drive her, or give her a place to stay.

Both sets of outcasts in these movies are looked down upon, but Mona's is a double-edged sword. She is not only dirty and a drifter, but she is a dirty FEMALE drifter. Females are not supposed to be so unkempt and unproper. They are supposed to be hosuekeepers or teachers, clean and civilized. Thus, as a result of her actions, Mona spends the majority of the movie alone. Even when she is the company of certain willing persons, she is isolated and outside of the mainstream "culture" of this movie. She is raped in the darkness and no one except for the movie audience ever finds out. It is not as schosking had it happened to someone like the elderly woman's housemaid. Being a drifter in Mona's case is not a liberating, freeing experience. It is a death walk in which she meets her fate because she floats alone in a daze throughout the countryside until she gives up and succumbs to what she deserves.

In "Easy Rider" the freeing journey the men travel along together is crazy as well, however they have their companionship, as well as that of George, which is less lonely and dark. When they die, it is a shock to us as a movie audience. However, in "Vagabond", we see right away that Mona dies. Then we are taken back in time to see why she did. It is not a surprise to us that she perishes, and the only surprise to myself was that she lasted as long as she did.

You're either a woman or a human

The text seeks to reproduce the misrecognized wholeness and dispell the disquieting interruption invoked by the presence of the Other. (Hottel)

The narratives in "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" share many similar elements; the protagonists experience many of the same events, feelings and dangers. They experience the inherent dangers of being on the road; they live and sleep out in nature throughout most of their travels; they are outcasted by the people surrounding them, who criticize their ways and their seeming freedom; they suffer the hatred and violence of these people; and die in the end. But the main difference between thes two tales is gender, and the effect this has the on the events the protagonists experience and the ways in which the director narrates the story.

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Vagabond and Easy Rider

She passes through the lives of various characters-that is, through a landscape as much social as it is literal-provoking various reactions.
Vagabond and Easy Rider are similar in the sense that both are considered "road movies" and that the characters in both films are outcasts from society. They also have some similar instances where the characters encounter the same sort of experiences. In Vagabond and Easy Rider, the characters travel in and out of people's lives. In Vagabond, Mona enters the lives of different people that for the most part are connected to one another in some way. She tends to remain in relatively the same place or in the same area for the entire movie which leads her to encounter some of the same people more than once. She also tends to leave a lasting impression on all of those that she meets as we learn through the interviews with the characters. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt are traveling across the country, instead of just meandering around one particular area. They also meet various different people along their journey. In both films, there are points in time where they are given the opportunity to stay in one place and farm the land. Mona decides to stay and then does nothing for work on the farm. I think that in Easy Rider, the two might have possibly stayed and found a home on the commune where they stay for a little while. However, there is a point where Mona could possibly be content when she begins working on the vineyard. Another difference between the two movies, is the soundtrack. In Vagabond, Mona's theme music plays and is piano music in minor keys giving a dramatic feel to the scene. It portrays the mood very well in that things for Mona aren't looking too good. In Easy Rider, the music for the guys on the road is rock-n-roll and very upbeat songs which make it feel almost cool to be on the road apart from society. Some of the main differences between the films is that Vagabond is a woman traveling alone and not in an automobile. Most of her time is spent walking and wandering around. Because she is a woman we also see that she is taken advantage of in a few cases such as the truck driver and then her boyfriend at the end of the film. I think that because she is a woman that she leaves a stronger impression on those that she meets than Wyatt and Billy leave on those people that they encounter. I also think that the professor in Vagabond thought she might be able to reform Mona and bring her back to civil society. In Easy Rider, the guys were just outcasts and were viewed as that where nothing could be done about it. Those that had a problem with it dealt with it by killing Wyatt and Billy in the end. And although Mona dies in the end as well, she dies of her own accord and not willing to accept any of the help that those around her offer.

Driver vs. drifter

“Whether Woman is depicted as temptress or ideal Madonna, the outcome in the narrative is the same—woman occupies a place as object, not as subject, in the narrative? (Hottel 679).

In both Easy Rider and Vagabond, we follow the travels and exploits of social outcasts—Wyatt and Billy are long-haired, drug-dealing bikers in a culture that frowns upon such things, while Mona is a female drifter, a status that carries its own set of stigmas—we see the protagonists’ interactions with those along the road, and their ability to make friends (the hitchhiking hippie and George in Easy Rider, David, Assoun, and the train station bums in Vagabond) as they travel. However, the differences between the films are more notable than the similarities, and they have a great deal to do with the gender of the traveling protagonists.

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Free to be free.

“We cannot fix the film any more than we can fix Mona and it is in this de-fetishization of the text as well as the body-female that Varda asserts her own brand of feminist filmmaking practices.? (Hayward 294)

The classification of road films Easy Rider and Vagabond, is one of the few similarities between theses movies. Some of the most obvious, but important reasons that these movies are not similar is because first and foremost, our leading lady is exactly that, a lady. Wyatt and Billy are drastically different characters from Mona by nature, but the gender difference is very prominent. It changes the dynamic of the movie. Another reason this movie is obviously different is means of transportation. Wyatt and Billy are able to choose their paths, turn around and go home, stop when and where they’d like. Mona hitchhikes, campus, walks through various fields. Her means of getting places shows her fluidity much more so than being in control of a vehicle. Mona’s death being presented in the first scene is also a representation of a difference. The delivery of the message is so drastically different; the direction of Vagabond is so unique. The framing of how Mona appears to the audience is indirect in many scenes, yet she is still in our focal point.

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Free to be free.

“We cannot fix the film any more than we can fix Mona and it is in this de-fetishization of the text as well as the body-female that Varda asserts her own brand of feminist filmmaking practices.? (Hayward 294)

The classification of road films Easy Rider and Vagabond, is one of the few similarities between theses movies. Some of the most obvious, but important reasons that these movies are not similar is because first and foremost, our leading lady is exactly that, a lady. Wyatt and Billy are drastically different characters from Mona by nature, but the gender difference is very prominent. It changes the dynamic of the movie. Another reason this movie is obviously different is means of transportation. Wyatt and Billy are able to choose their paths, turn around and go home, stop when and where they’d like. Mona hitchhikes, campus, walks through various fields. Her means of getting places shows her fluidity much more so than being in control of a vehicle. Mona’s death being presented in the first scene is also a representation of a difference. The delivery of the message is so drastically different; the direction of Vagabond is so unique. The framing of how Mona appears to the audience is indirect in many scenes, yet she is still in our focal point.

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February 17, 2008

Who gets to tell their story?

Mona’s actions and words seem contradictory, even mad, from the standpoint of “traditional? reason, for although the “witnesses? to her last winter evince the need to categorize her, she eludes their efforts (Hottel 11).

Mona in Vagabond and Wyatt in Easy Rider are both central characters who hit the road to fill their need to be free of society. But as a woman Mona’s cinematic journey is quite different than Wyatt’s.

Extended Entry--

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Mona is smelly and filthy, but she's still a woman

" Instead of emphasizing the high-speed, thrill-seeking driving typical of American road movies, these films emphasize introspection and reflection; passage through the landscape becomes an allegory of a lost soul seeking the meaning of life" (Laderman 248).

The American and European road film portray the road very differently. The American road symbolizes freedom and escape from oppressive culture versus European road travel where "traveling outside of society becomes less important (and perhaps less possible) than traveling into the national culture, tracing the meaning of citizenship as a journey" (248). For example, Easy Rider and Thelma and Lousie are all about the escape and finding freedom on the raod, which is not so in Girl on a Motorcycle and particularly Vagabond; "non-American road movies tend toward the quest more than the flight" (248). While Wyatt, Billy and Mona are all outcasts, Mona slips into the cracks of society, while Wyatt and Billy are noticed wherever they go. Mona is so vastly different from Wyatt and Billy, simply meandering without purpose or intent. Gender also comes into play as well. billy and Wyatt are the dominant figures, they move the action along. Because they are male they are the lookers, despite the fact that they are outcasts, they have the virtue of the male gaze that cannot be taken from them, unlike Mona, a woman, who is passive because of her gender, she is looked at (although no one in the film truly sees her). She is objectified by the male gaze despite her filth on several occasions; phallocentrism continues to rule. This is seen in her sexual abuse and treatment by the men she meets. While she is not "sexified" like Rebecca, she is still an object, there is no escaping the male gaze even though she is dirty and smelly. From the moment she denies the truck drivers advances to her drug buddy at the end of the film who only sees her as a "good piece of ass," phallocentrism is at work. However notably in Vagabond the women are physically juxtaposed with Rebecca and those in Easy Rider. They're almost unrecognizable as women in their physical appearance if not for their passive roles and the male gaze. Mona is obviously no supermodel and the goatherd wife is beyond plain jane. I find it quite interesting that even though their appearance is not the epitome of a femininity they still cannot escape it. Despite the stark contrast between symbolism and the goal of the road in American and European road films, clearly phallocentrism is still present.

Women Travel Alone

Perhaps the ultimate road movie outcast, Mona does not cruise the highway on a sleek motorbike, sporting a sexy leather jacket, wrecking subversive havoc. This European road movie refuses to romanticize rebellious driving/traveling, as most American road movies do. ...Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly distrurbing homeless drifter (Laderman, 267).

The main difference between Vagabond and Easy Rider is our main characters. In Vagabond it is a female who is truly a drifter. She is not attractive and has no desire to settle anywhere. This desire to continously be on the move is evident through the use of the cameras tracking shots. The camera will continue past Mona and onto a different object symbolizing this idea of movement. Easy Rider also uses these tracking shots however, in most of them both Wyatt and Billy are in the center of the frame suggesting that there road does have an ultimate destination, New Orleans. Another interesting difference between our main characters is their appearance. Only once do we see Mona bathe, and that is at the beginning of her journey when she comes out of the ocean. In Easy Rider we see Wyatt and Billy bathing and they look clean and are attractive. This is evident during the scene in the diner when the young girls can not stop giggling about how handsome they are. Another important difference is that Vagabond begins at the end of Mona's life. We already know the outcome of Mona, we know that she is going to die alone in a ditch. Easy Rider hides the death of our two main characters, it never occurs to the audience that they are going to die until it actually happens. Even then we are still so stunned that it is hard to believe.
Finally, by making the main character in Vagabond a woman, I feel that Varda is expressing the idea that woman are more isolated than men. To emphasize this point, Mona does not have her own means of transportation and is forced to hitchhike through southern France. Also, she is alone. Yes, she does drift through and has a few key moments where she seems "settled" but eventually she does leave and is just as alone as she was before. In Easy Rider, the men are not alone because they have eachother. They travel together, do drugs together, and die together, unlike Mona who always was and will be forever alone.

A Journey Moved by Others

“Trees are amongst the many objects that link or punctuate the film and, as with most of the objects, are more readily associated with violence and death than with regeneration and life. Trees are framed as Mona is raped. Trees (plane trees) have been ‘colonized/’raped’ by a deathly American-imported fungus (gift of World War II). Mona immediately identifies with their destiny: ‘si elles cre`vent, pensez `a moi’ (‘if they perish, think of me’), she says (my stress) (Hayward 293).
When Mona was dropped off in the woods by the professor none of the trees around looked fully alive, it seemed as though they were struggling for whatever was left. Hayward talks about how Mona associates herself with these trees, and she actually does blend in as she stays there for awhile setting up her tent and campfire. When the professor tells Mona about the deadly fungus she could careless and actually hopes that they just all die. Mona’s point of view of those trees is how some people view her. I agree with Hayward’s statement because Mona was raped around those trees that were deadly violated by the fungus: she was violated as they were. Even though this is a road film like Easy Rider there were more differences than similarities. The similarities I saw were that they both liked doing drugs and neither found a place they could reside in for long. One of the differences was that in Easy Rider, Wyatt (a male) controlled the story, the movement of the plot. Whereas in Vagabond, Mona did not have much control as Wyatt did. In Easy Rider, all the scenery shots were either just scenery shots or involved Wyatt and Billy. In Vagabond, the scenery shots start at Mona and moves away from her, all the way until the viewers can no longer see her: even when it goes from scenery to Mona it moves pass her, once again removing her completely. Wyatt and Billy are never removed completely. Even though Mona was the main object she was not always the main focus. Mona was on a journey but never moving until she was moved by someone. I personally enjoy watching Easy Rider more than Vagabond.


"Trees are amongst the many objects that link or punctuate the film and, as with most of the other objects, are more readily associated with violence and death that with regeneration and life."--Susan Hayward

In the film Vagabond, Mona Bergeron defies the oppressive nature of "roofs" and "laws" by embracing an exhaustively autonomous lifestyle much like Wyatt and Billy in Easy Rider. In a strictly superficial sense, both films share a similar narrative trajectory emphasizing the idealism and seemingly contradictory failings of independent behavior. Unlike Easy Rider, however, Vagabond is primarily concerned with the abstract implications of isolation with respect to a thematic journey; this is manifested pervasively by the film's metaphorical motif of trees and its nonlinear storytelling structure. At one point, Mona ambiguously recalls: "I was fighting all these bits of images." This quote is a perfect summary of the film's aggressive use of fragmented flashbacks serving to bracket off Mona's experiences from societal frameworks in general. This nonlinear style is balanced by the recurring imagery of linear, parallel objects (ridges in snow, raised bumps in plowed fields, crosswalk paint, numerous gates and fences, pillars, closely bunched trees, etc.), which fittingly represent the neutral world that Mona constantly wanders. The tree motif is, more often than not, used to represent the essence of Mona. For example, Yolande observes that "The woodwork's pretty, but it collects dust"--just like Mona's increasingly grimy appearance.

Throughout the film, wood represents Mona being "cut off" from the world. The trees infected with fungus and the persistent burning and slicing of branches and twigs (especially the matches that slowly contribute to Mona's unhealthy smoking habit) symbolize the inevitable decay that Mona must experience to sustain her way of life. The helpful professor who gives Mona rides even remarks that "She's taken root in my car." Another reference to the state of Mona in terms of plant life is found in "Wandering? That's withering." Again, as opposed to the protagonists of Easy Rider, Mona is in no way concerned with proving anything--the constant sight of worldly signs and road markers fulfills that duty. Indeed, she is told "Don't leave any marks," has "no marks" on her body upon death, and wears a jacket with a stop sign on her back--out of her mind completely, but emblematic of what is, literally, behind her. She is "aided" by pointing finger logos and her hitchhiking thumb, the kindness of dogs, and frequent watering spouts, but it is, of all things, men who are ironically masked as plants who preface her demise. The woman's role is not to be a passive, fixed object like a tree, but in avoiding such a fate in this world, she risks losing her life. Mona's most prophetic statement regarding her herbaceous cousins: "Think of me if they die." Trees (living or dead) remain, unfortunately, in a permanent silence.


“To articulate Varda’s departures from the status quo more clearly, it is necessary first to delineate the dominant cinematic apparatus as well as mainstream narrative’s exploitation of the psychological process inherent in film viewing to relegate the Other to a position of object, outside the sphere of influence in/on the system. Although the analysis holds true for all colonized bodies, I will restrict the following description to the gendered Other, woman, for reasons of space and particularity for Varda’s cinema.? (Hottel 1999).

Varda’s departure from the status quo that Hottel mentions throughout her article is something that can be easily recognizable throughout Easy Rider as well with their attempt to journey beyond what is safe and what is to be expected by society. She mentions that Mona’s character takes on this title of the “Other? in which she is viewed as the object of other’s interest although does not allow herself to be influences by the outside forces that are looking in. Commonly when others whom she encounters ask her to stay, ask if they can take care of her, it is not something that she is interested in, being tied to one place and one person. She does use them for temporary comfort, company, food, or money but it is unlikely that she reveals anything about herself or life to those who may want to know more about her and her journey of solitude. By doing this she puts herself in the position of the object in which she is not connected or bound to anything or anyone and does not allow others to get a glimpse of who Mona really is. This could simply be a result of the insecurities she feels in not knowing who her true character is and therefore does not want anyone to try and define her.
In Easy Rider this is also shown with both main characters in which there is a constant interaction with those individuals that they may come in contact with but the conversation involves talking around the issues and not actually about them. They have embarked on this journey in a way to find out more about others and what changes may be happening outside the walls of the mainstream rather than discovering the core of themselves. In doing this they like Mona allow themselves to be seen and treated as objects by those around them. As I afore mentioned characters in Vagabond such as the environmentalist wish to take care of Mona, to protect her although she does not wish to be kept nor does she wish to protect herself. When thinking about Varda’s cinematic style in creating Mona as an object there is immediate foreshadowing to her death in the end and we are able to see a direct connection with Easy Rider. These characters in a sense are viewed by themselves and others as objects although in Vagabond Varda interviewed other characters to suggest that those that she came into contact with possessed some sort of concern of her well being in Easy Rider the majority of those that the two men come in contact with do not wish to be involved in their quest to find America and are therefore considered disposable.

If Easy Rider was about a woman...

Ruth Hottell states "With the alienated and alienating Mona, the film disrupts the classical structure of the look and narrative because she refuses that place culturally assigned to the woman." (692) Although Easy Rider and Vagabond are both road movies in the sense that main characters are on the road and behaving in ways that are outside societal norms, the movies are entirely different because of the way gender is portrayed in each of the films. Wyatt and Billy are men on a trip and this journey is filmed and viewed from the male point of view. If one of these characters was female the movie would not be substantially changed because the male gaze would still be the dominate of framework for understanding the movie. We see an example of this predominate male gaze in a movie about a woman on the road, Girl on a Motorcycle. Rebecca spends the whole movie being dominated by both on and off screen male presences. Vagabond is different because Mona exists outside the male gaze. Although Easy Rider and Vagabond are both movies about the search for particular types of freedom only Vagabond continues this search for freedom into the act of making the film itself.

"A truly disturbing homeless drifter"

"In Varda's and Bonnaire's iconoclastic interpretations of the French Female Lead, Mona is ugly and disheveled; she has no car nor any impulse to drive, a truly disturbing homeless drifter (Laderman 267). "
In this quote Laderman seems to highlight both a similarity and a difference regarding genders and the road film as portrayed in Easy Rider and Vagabond. Although Mona is a woman and therefore inherently different from the male lead characters of Easy Rider, she does possess similarities to them. As Laderman describes her, she is "ugly and disheveled," a characteristic that is traditionally attributed to men moreso than to women. This, as well as a drug use and the fact that she is usually seen in the company of men, aligns her with Billy and Wyatt. It also seems to be the only thing in common between Vagabond and Easy Rider.

In their film, Billy and Wyatt possess both a way of traveling (their motorcycles), as well as a purpose. The same can not be said of Mona. She is constantly on her own, hitchhiking the entire way with no consistent conveyance, and not once does it become clear what her goal is in traveling. Billy and Wyatt had both something they were escaping as well as something to escape to, but Mona only seems to have the former. Is this indicating that men are more goal-oriented while women are more about the journey? Maybe. It is not entirely apparent.

Searching for Happiness

Hottel states, " Like Varda's style itself, Mona's chosen liberty makes traditionalists uncomfortable-they feel it necessary to deny that her situation was the chosen one."

Wyatt and Mona are very similar in their quest for freedom. They both willingly flee civil society in search of greater freedom. Feeling that there is more to life than a 9-5 job, Mona decides to start walking. Wyatt was able to use his motorcycle in search of the meaning of America. Both Mona and Wyatt sleep outdoors on their journey. Both Mona and Wyatt encounter people who don't understand them and are straight out rude to them. Wyatt found ignorant people in the restaurant and Mona did with the vine cutters. I think people reject things and people they don't understand and these people couldn't understand why someone would willingly travel and live on the road. I think it is harder for people to see a woman without a home, than a man. Women in this society are seen as more breakable than men. A woman is not supposed to get dirty. It is harder for some people to see a woman suffer, than a man. This is supported through the comments of the boss's wife. She told Mona that vine cutting is not a woman's job. It is interesting that Mona would find opposition from both the woman and the male vine cutters in the place where she seemed to finally find happiness. Looking to your surroundings or other people or taking off on a journey is not going to lead you to happiness. I think happiness needs to come from within.

Easy Rider vs Vagabond

"Vagabond is a compelling and disturbing portrait of a young single woman, Mona Bergeron (Sandrine Bonnaire), living on the road, drifting with no place to call home, nor any desire to claim one".

Personally, I prefered the movie Vagabond than Easy Rider. These two movies are similar and different in many ways. One similarities is that both these movie deal with the road. The only difference is that in Vagabond, it is a female [Mona] who is traveling the road. In Easy Rider, it was a man. The films were also different in terms of the reason for traveling. In Easy Rider, Billy and Wyatt were in search of real america and real freedom. But, in Vagabond- we don't clearly see the intention of her journey. All we know is that Mona loves to be on the road and she goes where her feet takes her. She doesn't have expectations from life or anything. To me, she was a very independent woman who was looking for a place where she would feel like home. There was a point in the movie, with that Tunisia? guy, where she wanted to settle down with him. Except for that, he wasn't strong enough to be a man and keep her with him and she goes her separate way. Another similarities and difference is how people behave with the main characters from the film. In Easy Rider, girls envied Billy and Wyatt, wanted to travel with them and thought they were cool. But the guys despised them. In Vagabond, guys were in a way shocked by Mona's characteristic and behavior, and girls envied her and wanted to be like Mona even though they knew that their culture wouldn't support it. But, all girls wanted to be free like her- free not only to travel on their own but to love freely to show their emotions to other freely and do whatever your heart tells you to do freely. And the other girls didn't have the courage to be like Mona. In Easy Rider, the guys ride their bike. But, in Vagabond, she hitchhiked wherever possible and walked on her feet. Another thing that was common is that both the main characters didn't believe or follow the law. Because they believed that there should be no law other than living in your own terms freely. No law above or below the sky. Also, the characters from both the films were in drugs/grass. The result of the journey is also very similar. Both the main characters in Easy Rider and Vagabond dies in the end.

February 16, 2008

Total freedom associated with loneliness?..

" The American cinema is entirely dependent [...] on a system of representations in wich the woman occupies a central place only to the extent that it`s a place assigned to her by the logic of the masculine desire" (Hottel). In vagabond ( Sans toit ni loi ), the spectator is taken into a world that he/she may have never experienced before.Changes made here are big. A woman occupies the most important role assigned to her by another female. Through Agnes Varda`s voice ( narrating voice) the spectator can now see through the eyes of a woman.

Although there are nearly two decades separating the movie " Easy Rider " with " Vagabond ", the purpose both main characters had, is clearly the same: the quest for freedom. In Easy Rider, Wyatt and BIll, two friends travel across America to find another America; one more suitable for them. Mona herself in Vagabond is looking for freedom itself; she wants to be free like a bird and have no oblligation whatsoever. On the other hand, the differences we observe bring us back to the feminist notion in Vagabond versus the masochism of Easy Rider. Bill and Watt, although getting away from the world still had each other and their most precious possessions: their motorcycles. And not only that, but would they have fun together and face danger together. i assume it was much more difficult for Mona to hit the road not only as a woman but as a lonely woman. She had nobody to rely on but herself; no real belonging to at least call hers. She had no sense of belonging. Ironically, none of the people she met along the way could forget her. Was it because she was ready to keep the freedom she had at any price? Or maybe beause they saw in her, a part of them they are not ready/or to scared to discover yet?

Like the goatherd that provided Mona with food and shelter said, there is a limit to freedom; total freedom brings you total loneliness. And total loneliness eats you up. Mona was totally free and thought she was invicible. But no human can win over the laws of nature.

February 15, 2008

Rebels vs Realism - Who Prevails?

“In foregrounding the social matrix Mona passes through, Varda implicitly challenges the road movie’s tendency – within the narrative, and as a genre – to romanticize the rambling outlaw. Mona’s culture does not know how to deal with such aimless wandering; most of those interviewed cannot make sense of her. Throughout, the film suggests that the culture that in some way spawned Mona may have inadvertently contributed to her tragically meaningless death (Laderman 267). “

This provocative quote from the Laderman readings provides an interesting way to compare and contrast the films Vagabond and Easy Rider. In Easy Rider, the small group of male hippies searches for the seemingly lost America. These men receive one of two reactions by the people they encounter – envy or hate. The individuals that cannot understand or handle these men react violently, ultimately murdering them in the end.

In Vagabond, the single female Mona is not searching for something as grand as a lost country – she in fact does not seem to be searching for anything at all. She is simply living her life, which happens to be a drifter on the French countryside. Mona receives puzzled reactions from the people she encounters, but none reacts by wanting to kill her. As a single woman, Mona is seen as weaker as or more fragile than the pack of men in Easy Rider. Though Mona attempts to resist this idea, she reinforces it through many of her actions. Her womanly vulnerability is seen when she is sexually assaulted by different men and runs screaming into the phone booth when the men practicing the pagan ritual come after her.

In both Easy Rider and Vagabond, the main characters meet an untimely end. Wyatt, George, and Billy are murdered in a roadside spectacle complete with explosions and archetypal southern bigots. Mona, in contrast, dies naturally, finally giving up the urge to wander. Referring back to Laderman’s quote, both films seem to suggest that the culture that created these “outsider? figures lead to their death. For Wyatt, Billy, and George, the mainstream culture directly leads to their death when the men chase them down and murder them. For Mona, the disinterest and obvious lack of effort on the part of those she encounters to understand her leads to her “blending into the scenery? and her ultimate death. The men of Easy Rider die because they are noticed – Mona dies because, as a woman, she is not noticed.

Aucune Identité

Unlike in most American road movies, this road is no refuge from home, no vehicle of revelation or redemption or critical insight - except, perhaps, for the audience, testimony to the film's unique form of cultural critique, which occurs not so much within the film but rather as a result of watching it.

Although many of the same cinematic techniques such as the tracking shot are used both in Easy Rider and Vagabond, the differences between American and European cinema and the influence of gender make these two road movies dissimilar. I think one very important difference between these two films is the role the automobile plays. In Easy Rider the motorcycle becomes apart of the men riding them, which is evident by scenes like the one at the motel where Billy and Wyatt do not turn off their bikes nor get off them to ask for a room. Mona on the other hand has no automobile of her own; all she has is her body and the assistance of others to keep her in constant motion. Mona does not achieve the same sense of independence that the men do, having to rely on others to help her meet her basic needs.

The motives for taking to the road in both films are very different as well. Billy and Wyatt set out to discover America where as Mona is simply living, drifting along without a destination or desire to stay or be with anyone for too long. As a women Mona lacks the privilege and power of a man to gain an identity on the road. Few people Mona meets even take the time to remember her name and merely use her until they need her or can no longer support her. There is a distinct contrast to the way in each journey's ends that reflects that motive. Billy and Wyatt come face to face with a symbolic representation of what they are fighting against. Mona isn't offered the opportunity to fight back and merely passes along without being noticed just as the film began, leaving a trace of herself with those she met, but they are unable to identify just what she left them with.

February 14, 2008

Americans Are Discriminating Against Hillary Clinton Because She Is A Female

"Generally speaking, European road movies seem less interested than their American counterparts in following the desperately rambling criminal exploits of an outlaw couple; or, in romanticizing the freedom of the road as a political alternative expressing youth rebellion. Rather, the exploration of psychological, emotional, and spiritual states becomes more important to the Continental drive." (Driving Visions: Exploiting the Road Movie, P. 247-248 David Laderman) This is a principle difference that can contrast the movies of "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond." Although both movies are rebellious road movies, the European road movie similar to "Vagabond" can be more insightful and more appropriate to a college class. A written summary without actually watching the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" would make one think that these films are nearly identical except that one is in English and the other is in French. Both of these films feature plots of a group of men and a single woman on the road trying to find something that does not exist.

The most obvious difference with the movies "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" can be the gender of the drifters. The male drifters in "Easy Rider" were not treated particularly well because they were in America and also because they were male. It seems that male characters tend to elicit less empathy and sympathy that female characters because they are portrayed to be tough and unfeeling. The female drifter in "Vagabond" was generally treated pretty well since she was in France and because she was a female. People usually treat females with more consideration and respect because people portray females as being weak and requiring more care and attention. This is probably the reason as to why Mona was treated reasonably well as she was not only a relatively nice person herself, she was also a vulnerable female drifting on the road alone. Another interesting difference in the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" can have to do with the nature of the drifters. In the film "Easy Rider" the drifters seemed to have a desire to continue drifting on the road, having fun at times. In the film "Vagabond" the drifter Mona seemed to want to find a place for herself and was not happy being on the road as noted when the Moroccans kicked her out of their residence. Mona seemed to want to have people connect with her and tried to give people the impression that she was strong when she was a vulnerable woman.

The most important difference in the films "Easy Rider" and "Vagabond" are the cultures they take place in because there is a simply startling difference in the manner the Americans and the French treat the drifters. The culture of the people are expressed very sincerely in the movies. The manner in how the Americans and the French treat the drifters may have to do with the gender of the drifters, being male or female however, the Americans are simply inexcusable in their wantonly cruel treatment of the drifters whether they are male or not. The lead character, Mona is a shabby-looking individual that would dispatch the narrow-minded, bigoted Americans into a wild marathon, did not have the same effect on the French. The French in this movie actually took the time to get to know Mona for the innocent, if rather lost person she was. The French in general, opened their arms to her, more than willing to help her, talk to her, and give her what she needed. The tree-specialist lady was especially kind, letting Mona sleep in her car. The kind treatment of the French to a different looking person is in stark contrast to the callously wicked treatment of the American people. They jeered, mocked, and even killed the different looking drifters. This was simply a part of American culture to treat those different with indifference. We should all be able to learn from the example set by the French in the movie "Vagabond."


Sans toit ni loi

"Trees are framed as Mona is raped. Trees...have been 'colonized'/'raped' by a deathly American imported fungus...Mona immediately identifies with their destiny; 'si elles crevent, pensez a moi'"

A good point the article by Hayward makes is the reversal of symbols all throughout "Sans toit ni loi". Symbols of life, freedom, growth, and even passion are turned to death, captivity, stuntedness, and something needing to be doused rather than fueled. Trees, fire, water, even shutters are now something nasty and lurking. This entire film seems to be a statement of contradictions towards "normal" male road films like "Easy Rider."

"Easy Rider" is a film depicting the joys of living in the 70's. They are young, they were free, and they could do drugs and sleep with as many women as they wanted to without any true consequences. Yes they had some difficult times but they always came out on top. "Why?", one might ask? Because they are men. "The Vagabond" turns these identifiers of male life inside out when referring to Mona and her life on the road. Everything from drugs to sex is turned into a negative when Mona does it. Even the fact that she is on the road in the first place seems to be heralded as a bad idea. She is emotionally distant and cold instead of vivid in life and action. She is unable to take care of herself to her determent where as in Easy Rider all their scruff just makes them sexy.

The two most significant things seem to be her rape and death. As I quoted in the beginning life becomes death and freedom becomes captivity in the rape scene. Her desperation becomes the cry the trees cannot produce though they are in the same situation. Mona's death is so useless compared to the devastating glory of Billy and Wyatt's deaths in Easy rider. Mona tripps over life ( water pipe), Billy gets shot in pursute of "fun" and Wyatt gets blown up in all the wonder that comes with attempting to save a friend. While Billy and Wyatt become this intangible good, Mona becomes a waste.