Gaze theory, which attempts to explain the power of spectatorship and of the eye, is usually supported by the role and power of pleasure. Clifford T. Manlove argues that attributing the power of the gaze to pleasure, as Laura Mulvey does, minimizes its meaning. He argues that the gaze, in three specific Hitchcock films, is actually about women as the true heroes trying to resist the male gaze and make sense of the world around them. Mulvey characterized the feminine gaze with “nostalgia and repression.”
He argues that there is a split between the gaze and the eye. The gaze becomes the invisible and the eye is the real. In Vertigo, Scottie's vertigo is the gaze and other objects or characters, such as the nun at the end, is the real. In Blackmail, it is Alice's gaze because the knife used to kill Crewe and the real is the portrait of the jester that reminds her of her shame. Manlove asserts that if the gaze could be verbalized than it wouldn't be a gaze resulting in death. If Alice had been able to express herself, would she have had to reach for the knife?
5-7. (available at http://www.ejumpcut.org/archive/onlinessays/JC26folder/
This article evaluates the fidelity of Kramer vs. Kramer as a realistic depiction of life for families involved in divorce. Malloy notes many ways in which the plot and circumstances of Kramer vs. Kramer are either ambiguous or blatantly inconsistent. She proposes that the film’s failure to develop a stance on the topic of divorce and gender roles within marriage allow the audience to occupy any position on the topic without being confronted. The article addresses the goals, values, and expectations for males and females as they occupy traditional spheres. In the film, these spheres are reorganized due to the divorce, and Malloy suggests the film perpetuates these stereotypes by presenting a “win-lose” mentality for Hoffman as he tries to fulfill the requirements of both roles. Furthermore, many of the complications that arise from a divorce are neglected in the film, namely the economic status of the family and the amount of responsibility the private sphere requires. Such aspects of divorce are glossed over or treated in a manner that trivializes the difficulty many individuals, particularly women, have in overcoming. The movie never addresses the plethora of new skills and knowledge Hoffman would have to develop and learn in order to be an effective parent. Malloy finally identifies what she sees as the most blatant failure of them movie, the failure to address the cost of family on the parent who holds the private sphere. She also discusses the theme of feminism in the movie, specifically late in the movie, and the biased depictions of Streep near the end of the film that seem to align with certain feminist values.
This article relates to my research in that it pointedly critiques Kramer vs. Kramer’s depiction of feminism and divorce, claiming that the film is extremely unrealistic and purposely ambiguous. Malloy’s views are strong and well developed, and her article is especially valuable because it was written very soon after the movie was released and demonstrates many of the movie’s contemporary social trends and ideas.
This article discusses feminist theory as it relates to theory. It discusses the foundational contributions of Mulvey, specifically the portrayal of women in cinema as objects to desire and possess, which contrasts with the portrayal of men as key figures in accelerating plot and implementing change. The article notes the influence of psychoanalysis, Marxism and semiotics on the evolution of feminist film theory since its emergence roughly thirty years ago. It also asks what relation feminist film theory has to the broader feminist movement and its goal of social change. Furthermore, Freeland examines the supposed basis for feminist film theory, as noted above, and the validity and applicability of these sources to feminist philosophy. She asks whether feminist film theory should be altered and rooted in a more conscious-raising approach. Such changes would be in line with the experiential trend in feminism and would liberate feminist film theory from the burdensome, typically “bourgeois” aspects of the field, its tendency towards abstraction and jargon. Freeland documents a distinctly different means of approaching film in a feminist manner, by seeking to analyze the depictions of female self, pleasure, and goals. She also identifies another alternative, the view that feminism should contain a number of different strategies of criticism. Freeland notes the potential influence and benefit to feminist film theory from other integrating alternative feminist film theories, including “liberal, socialist, and postmodern feminism.” Freeland suggests that through critically approaching film, individuals can demonstrate the potential for rising above our surroundings and becoming more than what our environment seeks to make us.
This article is relevant to the research topic because it presents a very theoretical view of feminism as it relates to film theory. By analyzing this topic, the issues concerning Joanna’s actions in the movie and feminism relevance to them becomes a more intricate issue than one might conclude initially. Instead of evaluating the characters motives, this article suggests we should look deeper, at the underlying social currents that create the environments where the conflicts emerge.
tagged feminism film_theory mulvey by loganm ...on 10-APR-08
Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” 17 Jan. 2007. Brown Wiki.
Laura Mulvey uses psychoanalysis to highlight the ways in which film reveals society’s view on sexual differences and desires. The paper explores the structured implementation of phallocentric themes which acknowledge the dominance of the male gender. Such an argument is centered around the image of a castrated woman. Mulvey states that “woman's desire is subjected to her image as bearer of the bleeding wound, she can exist only in relation to castration and cannot transcend it.” Without the male reproductive organ, the woman is at a loss. The sole meaning for a woman is to signify the existence of the better male version. Deriving their meaning solely from males, women passively submit themselves to the wants and obsessions of the imposing male. By analyzing this concept, Mulvey believes that feminists can find the true roots of female oppression. The paper explains that the magic of Hollywood is derived from its manipulation of visual pleasure. The article discusses the integration of erotic themes in film and the meaning of such undertones.
Mulvey discusses the way that the male looks at the female in Vertigo. Scottie looks at Madeleine in a way that fluctuates between “voyeurism and fetishistic fascination.” Scottie’s desire to remake his lost love and Judy’s willingness to do so, is an example of his dominance over her. Through the use of camera techniques, Hitchcock allows the viewer to take Scottie’s perspective and thus take on his position. The paper relates Scottie’s drive to reconstruct Madeleine to a fetish. As a woman, Judy knows that her role is to submit, and realizes that such a role is necessary to retain his erotic interest in her.
This paper affirms the feminist belief that Hollywood seeks to affirm male dominance by integrating it into its films. The oppressive manner in which men look at women, the “male gaze,” can be demonstrated through point of view shots. By making Madeleine the object of the camera’s desire (Scottie’s), the audience also experiences the possession. The paper is important as it serves as an example of feminist reaction to Hitchcock’s film.
Manlove, Clifford T. “Visual ‘Drive’ and the Cinematic Narrative.” Cinema Journal 2007, 83-108.
Project MUSE. University of Pennsylvania Library, Philadelphia. 4 Apr. 2008.
In this essay, Clifford T. Manlove comments on Laura Mulvey’s 1975 essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” and its application to Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Manlove explores the concept of “gaze theory” to explain opposing perceptions of the events that happen in the film. This idea of gaze refers to how the surrounding world views the presented characters. According to Manlove, Vertigo provides us with an “example of the formative split between the eye and its gaze.” The split is caused by Scottie’s near-death experience at the beginning of the film. Through the use of subjective camera positioning, we too as an audience experience a change in perception as we follow him around. Scottie’s vertigo forms a barrier between him and the people and objects that surround him. Things that may appear ordinary to others take on a special visual meaning to him. Manlove uses the example of the policeman who saves Scottie. Scottie sees a horrifying fall below him, while the policeman is unaffected and reaches out to help him. As an audience we can gaze upon Scottie, but only through camera techniques can we truly see how he sees. Hitchcock invented the “Vertigo shot” as a means of conveying his unique perception. The camera tracks backwards while zooming in, thus highlighting the occurrence of the split. “What to a rational observer looks like an alleyway, Scottie sees as a threatening object, simultaneously approaching yet infinitely receding.” Manlove goes on to relate the gaze to Scottie’s failure to save Madeleine, and its eventual result in Judy’s death. The essay further applies the concept of gaze to Rear Window and Marnie.
Manlove’s analysis helps us distinguish the fact that what the surrounding characters in the film see may be different from what Scottie sees. As an audience we are provided with insight into Scottie’s troubled mind by understanding the effects of his vertigo and how this might affect his insistence in reconstructing his lost love. Manlove helps us see that the story is driven by and conveyed through Scottie’s unstable state of mind. It is clear that Manlove has an appreciation for the techniques that Hitchcock used to convey his vision.