Psycho

December 9, 2011 | | 4 Comments


Film scholars and critics that use feminist theory to conceptualize certain aspects of film are seeing how women are objectified for the males viewing pleasure and influenced through the narrative and aesthetics into identifying with the males point of view. Laura Mulvey, a British feminist film theorist widely renowned for her essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,”(1975) discusses the way in which classical Hollywood films objectified women, subsequently causing audiences to identify with the male protagonist or “male gaze” term she coined to define the affirmation of male dominance in society with the use of film as the vehicle for the message. Mulvey’s essay on feminist theory as the basis for her critique on classical Hollywood filmmaking, when written, offered poiniant discourse of women consistently cast in a passive role, thus subjecting audiences to view on-screen imagery and relate to the narrative from a male perspective. In her essay, she cited several Alfred Hitchcock films as Hitchock films are prime examples of women objectified. As such, spectators are capable of perceiving roles of the protagonist from the male gaze, as was common and perhaps an inspirational factor when she wrote her essay.

Visual pleasure, as the title of her essay alludes to Mulvey’s notion in which pleasure is derived from looking, also referred to as scopophilia. “There are circumstances in which looking itself is a source of pleasure, just as, in the reverse formation, there is pleasure in being looked at.” (quotes from her essay) Thus it is imperative to comprehend the sexual desire that accompanies the watching, and how scopophilia is often refered to when discussing feminist film theory. Mulvey continues to consider Sigmund Freud’s perception of scopophilia and associate it with “taking other people as objects, subjecting them to a controlling and curious gaze.” When considering the gaze, one can easily equate it to voyeurism as Freud did.Voyeurism is the act of spying upon another. Typically, voyeurs are males who spy on a female in a sexualized nature. However, regardless of the gender of the voyeur, the act of being watched without without knowing someone is watching you, is generally considered unwanted attention. “At the extreme, it can become fixated into a perversion, producing obsessive voyeurs and Peeping Toms, whose only sexual satisfaction can come from watching, in and active controlling sense, an objectified other.” Some excellent movies that are based on voyeurism, and support Mulvey’s ideology about feminist film theory, are Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. The male protagonists in Hitchcock’s films fit the role described by Mulvey, they become compulsive in their gaze that is considered promiscuous and indecent.

Psycho, is a Hitchcock black and white masterpiece and one of the most important movies in film studies. The movie offers film students valuable insight into understanding feminist film theory and the effectiveness of using the male gaze as an attention grabbing form of entertainment for viewers. For example, there are several scenes in Psycho where Norman Bates, one of the male protagonists in the film, is seen peeping through a hole in the wall at Marion, the leading woman who’s character is victim to Bate’s sadistic voyeuristic habits. These images clearly show objectification of the female through the male gaze. Audiences watching these scenes that show Norman looking at Marion through a hole in the wall while undressing and taking a shower, are pulled into the act of watching as well which can cause them to experience the thrill of voyeurism and succumb to the male gaze that is so effective at objectifying women. “ The audience follows the growth of [the male] obsession and subsequent despair precisely from his point of view”. This is likely why Mulvaey choose Psycho as one of the Hitchcock movies to include in her analysis. Hitchcock’s use of advanced camera techniques supplied by the Hollywood industry allowed for audiences to take pleasure in the power of the male gaze. This allowed for Mulvey to discourse on inequality of gender and the many defiant stereotype of woman’s role in the past and on display for the big screen.

Breathless

November 23, 2011 | | 2 Comments


Referred to as the pioneer of French New Wave Jean-Luc Goddard was once just critic. Having participated in the French Magazine Cahiers du Cinéma, founded by some very important film theorist such as André Bazin and François Truffaut. They contributed to many ideologies and examined the medium of film through an avant-garde appeal. The film Breathless (1960) can be a bit confusing at times because it wanted to reject classical cinematic practices He used the medium to create a new form of art that produced seductive yet awkward feature. Breathless was Goddard’s first film as a director and it displayed his interest editing and use of narrative. The film it self doesn’t even seem scripted at times but it doesn’t annoy its viewers. It does the opposite by engaging with not knowing what the next move will be. Stealing another car or lifting up women’s skirts. Its all fun and entertaining to see.

The plot is quite simple boy mets girl but there are some interesting scenes in the film that are the essence of what makes the film memorable.

For example the interview conducted between the female protagonist and a French writer/philosopher. As they ask him question about romance and love he answers them with wit and poise.He is more interested in flirting with Patricia than answering any of her questions.

Jump Cuts- the use of jump cuts is very visible throughout the film. Its these small technical innovations that make a difference. The use of hand held camera is also very visible to the viewer.

Perhaps the most memorable parts of the film is Patricia, her accent is to die for along with her hairstyle. She is a beauty that transcends through time with her style and presence. Both male and female protagonist worked well together in the film. Their performance was captivating together, it did not take much effort to feel the chemistry brewing. Things do not end well for the pair but that is to be expected because he is a thief and she is naive…

Double Indemnity Final Scene

Double Indemnity is a very memorable film noir. Barbara Stanwyck’s performance of a cold and ruthless manipulator who has no difficulty doing what is necessary to get what she wants. She is what they call the ‘femme fatale’. Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray have amazing chemistry on screen, thats why it is so hard as a viewer to know what her real intensions are.To understand Double Indemnity one should become aquinted with film noir and how this genre derived from times of diffuclty such as The Great Depression. Its German Expressionist style exhibits low key lighting, shadows, and acting that captivates audiences.

The Link above will send you to the shot by shot analysis analyzed in Double Indemnity.

At this point Walter Neff knows the master plan has backfired, he let his emotions decide his fate. For a character like Walter this is especially taboo because his profession of Insurance was designed for someone is looking to deceit for a gain.

Establishing shot- Pacific All Risk Insurance.

LS- This scene begins with the protagonist having been shot trying to leave the building where he works and has just been caught for insurance fraud. As he is trying to leave through the door his body begins to give out. The non-diegetic sound accompanying the film is somber and letting the audience know it isn’t ending pretty for Walter.

MS- The camera angle is now a medium shot and and closer to the ground since the protagonist has now fallen to the floor due to his injury. You can literally see the sweat on his face, yet he still tries to make a joke to his boss about the current situation.
The wittiness of all the characters in this film is evident. As the scene progresses it is now two characters in the scene, so the camera tracks out some so both can fit in the frame.

The scene ends and the film for that matter end off somewhat ambiguous. As a viewer you don’t know if he lives or dies all we know is that he did the crime so he must pay the time. This is particularly important in Noir films, the sense of punishment. The moral is important just as the sound, dialogue, camera angeles, etc.

Double Indemnity is a treat to watch and is highly recommendable!

It may be harder for today’s audiences to fully appreciate a film like Citizen Kane at first sight. The story is a bit slower than what audiences may expect today. However, the films inventive way of camera use still influences filmmakers today, it certainly can be said that Welles was distinct and groundbreaking to make a film like this on his first try. Being that the film was in black-and-white many camera techniques were used to create a powerful picture. Every shot in the film was intended to give audiences a better understanding of the character in the film. The opening scene in the film begins with an establishing shot of the mansion that clearly states “No Trespassing” accompanied by music that sets the tone of suspense and dismay. As the camera moves its way deeper into the fog and passed the gates and right to his window which appears to be snowing but as the camera retracts itself you see that its a snow glow in the palm of his hand. Immediately after you notice the object in his hand the camera jumps to display lips whisper “Rosebud” he drops the snow glow allowing it to break. An unusual use of framing is followed to seem to appear as if the camera was looking through a glass, confusing the viewer only to then realize that the character is now dead.From the very beginning there is a mystery set in terms of the character and those last words uttered. The use of narrative structure is with out a doubt innovative for its time. Citizen Kane is nothing less than a classic.

James Harvey – “Sturges: Genious at Work,” explains his mishaps and hot streak in Hollywood. Lady Eve demonstrates his ability to cast and direct. From the very start Barbara Stanwyck (1907–1990) wins us over. This Brooklyn native nailed the part of combining romance and witt.

The Lady Eve demonstrates Sturges was at the pinnacle of his career, his use of camera techniques made you feel as if we were on that boat with the swaying. His writing allowed for this masterpiece to display on the big screen. The use of dialogue between characters is clever and witty leaving you wanting more of Lady Eve.

Gangster > < Hero

September 7, 2011 | | 6 Comments

Robert Warshow’s reading “The Gangster As Tragic Hero
regards this genre as the “modern sense of tragedy.” Since its
emergence it is clear that America and mass culture have a fascination
with these types of films and emphathize with the main protagonist. Warshow’s reading allows readers to
understand how and why this is the case. It is almost as if he wants readers to understand the ideology
associated with the allure of a gangster. The perception that has been created by this genre can be
misleading but like any other genre it is the way it must be conveyed to set conventions associated to
gangster films. “The experience of the gangster as an experience of art is universtal to Americans.” He
points out that its obvious that there isn’t a ganster on every corner in New York City however in order
to keep the audiences entertained it is important to live up to the hype. Just as is the ganster is “a creature of the imagination.” We see his struggle and we know why he does the bad things he does, but why do we root for him when we now he will eventually go down. The ganster is “what we want to be and what we are afraid we may become” and since we don’t actually want to live that life on the edge what better way then to take part in vieweing it on the screen. Public Enemy (1931) is a film that allows us to see engage on what life would be as a ganster with a side of pop corn…


Spam prevention powered by Akismet