December 5th, 2012

Analysis Project 2 : The Lady Eve and The Female Gaze

The Lady Eve and The Female Gaze

Link to mirror scene : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fZ7X5JDKmSI

Laura Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” on male gaze is a psychoanalysis of how film is fascinated with women’s figure and physical aspect. In the theory she explains that there are two main approaches. The first one is that women are depicted as objects to be used sexually and are put in an imaginary pedestal. The second approach is that women have no agency and that film never lets us relate to the female because the gaze is only seen through the males perspective. Mulvey sees this gaze mainly by how the camera looks at the characters but also states that there are other gazes. Like when we gaze as spectators or when camera gazes at the characters. She states that the gaze is power and that in films we see everything through the eyes of the male character. She also argues that women are seen as passive and men as the voyeurs. In The Lady Eve we see a different type of gaze, the female gaze, which I will explain further on. The Lady Eve, shows us gender politics and how typical gender stereotypes are changed.

Even though Mulveys theory of the male gaze has been asserted in most films, there is also the opposite happening in some films. There are several films that tend to have a different approach to the gaze, instead of having a defined male gaze there is a female gaze. For example   in The Lady Eve, a classic screwball comedy, written and directed by Preston Sturges is a perfect representation of the female gaze. In this film Jean (Barbara Stanwyck) a con artist who falls in love with Charles (Henry Fonda) a scientist who just came back from one of his adventures. They get married twice but the second time he thinks he is marrying another person, even though the film is very confusing at the same time it is hilarious and sometimes deceiving. The film represents gender politics in our culture and the new role of women in films and society.

Through the whole film we clearly know that Jean has control over him, she is the voyeur. Gender politics play a huge role in this film because it not only changes the usual role of female and male but it deceived the Hayes Production Code and the usual taboo topics.  One example of the female gaze is the scene where Jean is looking at Charles through her pocket mirror. There is a big contradictions with gender stereotypes, usually the man is the one that ‘picks’ out a women and stares very obviously. But in this scene Jean has control over Charles and she is the one that ‘picked’ the man.

Every woman surrounding Charles competes with each other to try to get his attention. They all smile and blush politely to get noticed. Everything is in deep focus; you can notice the women next to him how she smiles slightly at him without trying to be obvious. Jean voyeuristically narrates what Charles and the women that surround him with her pocket mirror, which she holds very highly and not discrete. Every “Jean” that passes does something to impress him, the first one moves her hips very abruptly, the next drops her handkerchief very obviously and comically, and the last one actually goes up to Charles. We can still feel that Jean is in control over the situation without him noticing it. It almost feels like we are watching a football game. The way jean narrates is very fast and it seems like the players are about to make a touchdown.  Also the camera is always very still just moving side to side but Charles is always in the center, like if he is an object. Additionally the scene was mostly a medium shot straight on which I think made us look at them very straight forward and detailed. Just like the male gaze puts females in a pedestal, the female gaze puts the male in a pedestal. This gives us the impression that Jean is in control of him manipulating him like   a puppet. She controls what Charles says, what the people surrounding him are saying to him and the actions he is taking before he actually does them.

Moreover when Jean speaks about the other women she says “every Jean in the room is giving her a thermometer” which she is implying that every woman is ‘her’ in the room.  Even though Jean knows who Charles is and his full name she calls him by “Bookworm” not by his real name which really shows power over that person, Jean is minimizing him. She is eyes dropping on him and because we can see through the mirror and everything is in deep focus we feel like we are eyes dropping also. Which in fact is one of the main theory’s in Laura Mulveys “male gaze”.  Jean narrates in voice over to his Dad all of this making fun of the other women and even of Charles. During the whole scene Jean speaks for Charles makes order for him and he follows, when she says to turn around, he does.

Female representation is very obvious in this film; it really changed the usual role of women. As the male gaze was very common in films, The Lady Eve shows a whole new vision in film making, the female gaze. Jean which is the representation of   females in the film is a con artist that manipulates and deceives the ‘strong’ man, Charles. The Lady Eve, with the example of the mirror scene I gave above really represents gender politics. The female in the film has control over every aspect of her life and other people’s life as well. This at the time was very controversial due to the chauvinistic society that women were living.  Jean challenges all of this and dominates the film, representing the female gaze.

 

November 25th, 2012

Breathless

 

When I first heard that we were doing the French New Wave, I was not looking forward to it. I’ve seen some French movies, and I always found them very boring and dull. So when we started watching Breathless I had very low expectations. But the film really surprised me. It kept me entrained. Even though the plot of the movie was very plain and simple, there was something that kept me watching the film and not get bored.  Jean-Luc Godard, the director of the film and a very important figure in the French new wave used his unique cinematography in this film. One of the techniques Godard used was that he would use very visible cuts in one specific scene. In my opinion the whole point of the film was to make us aware that it is a film. In one of the scenes you can even see people looking straight at the camera or the “actors”, because they were not extras, they were normal people walking on the street. This is what makes the movie so interesting and unique at the same time. One of the things that I found shocking at confusing was the ending. I did not get why it had to end that way, it is not the typical “happy ending”. Even though the film surprised me in numerous ways, it is a very good film and I recommend it to anybody

November 10th, 2012

PSYCHO

The film Psycho by Alfred Hitchcock is very psychotic; the name of the movie says it all. It is filled with unexpected scenes a mix of Hitchcock main themes: power, sex and death. In psycho I think Hitchcock makes everything in a way to subjectively put you in the shoes of the characters. He makes them so relatable that it scares you. These characters are not good characters; they fight the battle of good and evil. I think a scene that demonstrates this is when Marion decides to take the money, The camera reverse shots between her and the money, which implicates that they are having a conversation. Hitchcock makes us think that the money has more agency than her. Throughout the movie Hitchcock screws with our head and puts certain scenes or gives us dates that are not necessary .He tries to create suspense with scenes that don’t develop or don’t finish like they are supposed to. His selection of random scenes also create normalcy to the viewer. The fact that we see Marion showering then her changing clothes it makes us relate more and more to the characters. Hitchcock makes us want to do bad things and find a way around the law. The character of Cassidy is despicable but because this character is so dislikeable. It makes us like Marion more and has sympathy with her helpless situation of stealing the 40, 00 dollars. Overall I think the movie is very good, horrific, psychotic but Hitchcock does and incredible job.

October 12th, 2012

Shot by Shot analysis : Citizen Kane

Scene analysis: from Citizen Kane (dir. Orson Welles, RKO, 1941)

Scene where Mr.Thatcher is talking with Mr. Kane, he is about to surrender his paper.Then Mr. thompson is trying to look for the meaning of Rosebud.

You can find the scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTmVlDh2V2g&feature=related

 Shot 1   

        0:00 – 00:17

  • Medium shot, Straight on, Deep focus, Long take Mr. Kane is speaking with Mr. Thatcher about the Inquirer; they get into a small argument because Thatcher thinks Kane is losing his money. There is some tension between them. The lighting is coming from the bottom but throughout the shot there is more light on Mr. Kane than Thatcher. The sound is only the dialogue between them, on screen. Mr. Kane voice is louder that Thatcher. The transition from this shot to the next is very quick, the editing and transition are very quick you can barely notice you went from one shot to the other. Mise-en-scéne

 

  • In this shot the use of deep focus and Mise-en-scéne are very important and a similar pattern through the film. We can see the two men in the back looking at Mr. Kane and Mr. Thatcher although they are so far behind because it is a long take using Mise-en-scéne and deep focus. We can appreciate everything in our surroundings and are able to make our own conclusions. Also the lighting in the film is from the bottom and Mr. Kane is always brighter than the rest of the characters, this is also a pattern through the movie.

 

  • Deep focus I think was used by Welles through the film enable for us to make our own conclusions. He wanted us to see every detail in the shot and with this he created a lot of suspense.Also the use of lighting is very peculiar in almost all the shots in the film Mr. Kane always has more lighting. It almost look like he glows compared to everyone else, this was used enable to portray Kane in a divine way.

Shot 2

00:00-00:23

  • Medium Close-up, Deep focus, Short take straight on. Mr. Kane is arguing to Mr. Thatcher that he is going to lose “60 million dollars” but doesn’t care. He sounds very sarcastic and with a small smirk in his face. The lighting is from the bottom, but very low light. There are two sounds in this shot, Kane’s voice talking to Thatcher and at the end of the shot there is this peculiar non-diegetic music. The music almost feels like a circus. The transition between this shot and the next is characterized by a small dim of the light that goes dark and finally transitions into the next shot.
  • In this shot, sound is very peculiar, because it relates so much with what Kane is saying. I interpret that Kane is trying to tell Thatcher that he doesn’t care and that he is going to do as he pleases but in a very sarcastic way. In the final transition there is a short sound of music that is also very humorous. Throughout the Film Welle’s incorporates these pieces of sounds that relate with the dialogue, it is a pattern within the film.

 

  • Welles uses this technique enable to create different emotions. In this particular shot he uses non-diegetic music that is very sarcastic almost like circus music enable to prove Kane’s point. The deep focus is also used in this scene although we are very close to Kane’s face we can also see Thatcher head.

Shot 3

00:31- 2:52
  • It goes from a Medium close-up to a Medium shot to a Medium long shot and finally a
  •  Medium shot. Deep focus throughout the whole scene. Long take, straight on. Mr. Kane is talking with Thatcher about his papers to surrender and they get in a small discussion about his money. He does not have as much money as he first had; he is going through financial problems. Mr. Kane is very tired of the same situations and he finally signs the papers and surrenders. Very Low light, very dark. There is not so much camera movement but it does give us the impression that the camera is zooming in and out. The sound we here is only the dialogue of the three men in the room, and when it transitions from this shot to the next there is some mysterious off screen sound. There no big edit cuts; there is only the transition that fades away into a darker room. A non-diegetic mysterious sound helps transition from this shot to the next.

 

  • The use of deep focus is very important in the scene. The fact that is a long take and uses the technique         Mis-en-scéne lets us look at every single piece of the setting. After he signs the papers he turns and walks into the back of the shot. Deep focus in the scene allows Welles to play with the viewer’s perspective, because we can see everything clear no matter how far Kane goes. We can see a window behind Kane and we perceive it as normal but. But as the shot develops we see Kane walking towards the window, as he walks further the windows seems higher and higher. Eventually he stands beneath it and it shrinks, Kane look very small compared to the window. Then as he walks toward us it turns into normal size again. In this scene Kane’s importance and stature are diminished. We can only conclude that Welles was showing us how Kane’s power diminishes in a matter of seconds. Welles used this technique very wisely and to portray so many different thi
    ngs.

 

Shot 4

00:23 – 00:31

  • Straight on, Short take, Extreme close-up. The Camera moves very rapidly, we are transitioning from the scene of Mr. Kane talking to Thatcher. The camera moves from left to right showing a part of a sentence saying “In the winter of 1929”.We speculate that this is the winter were Mr. Kane was given away to Thatcher. The purpose of showing just a slight part of the whole document in this shot is to create mystery for what’s going to happen later on. Non-diegetic sound occurs very loud, the sound of music that we hear is very mysterious.

 

Shot 5

2:52 – 2:57

  • Medium close-up, High angle, short take. The scene transitions from Mr.kane signing the papers into this shot. They use non-diegetic mysterious sound to transition into this scene. You see a man from the back reading a document that is extremely illuminated almost looks divine. As the shot goes on you notice that it’s Mr. Thompson reading the document very careful although you cannot read what it says, you know it is very important. This makes the shot very mysterious. Everything is in deep focus throughout the whole shot. You can also see the shadows from what seems are very large windows. The lighting in this shot is used so the document looks very shiny and divine. Mr. Thompson looks very dark, you can barely see him mostly only shadows. At the end of the shot the transition is very quick no fading in or out.

 

  • This scene is very alike other scenes everybody else has very low lighting and dark clothes expect on Mr. Kane or his belongings. Because we cannot read what the book says it creates mystery within the shot.

 

Shot 6

2:57 – 3:19

  • Low angle, Deep focus, Long take, Medium long shot. The shot starts form a low angle were Mr. Thompson has finished reading Mr. Kane’s document. Everything is deep focus; we can even see the painting in the back and the detail of the framing. In this shot we can still see the document shining and it is the only bright thing in the shot, everybody else looks very dark. The lighting is also very low and it seems that its coming from below.

 

  • As the shot develops the house keeper enters the room the camera pulls up into a more visible low angle. Know we can see the painting very clear and we notice its Mr. Kane. Throughout the rest of the shot the camera movement is still. After the house keepers comes in they all look up to the painting and the guard takes his hat off as if he was saluting somebody important. That is another example of how throughout the film Mr. Kane is portrayed as something superior.

 

  • Like in other shots Mr. Kane is portrayed divine the lighting in the painting is very peculiar and makes the painting stand out. Through the scene anything related to Mr. Kane is showed as superior from the rest. The lighting is very important in this shot and through the film.

September 29th, 2012

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane 

The movie Citizen Kane i thought was very interesting, it was filled with suspense and a very controversial topic .It also seemed very modern, the camera angles and the use of lighting were very peculiar in this movie. The use of lighting was an important element in the movie. For example in the scene where you see  Mr. Kane’s portrait on the wall the camera angles is a long angle shot  and the lighting goes from bottom to top , it made the portrait look divine, as if Mr. Kane was god . Also in one of the last scenes, Mr. Kane is screaming and arguing with Miss Alexander, the lighting is so brilliantly used that the shadow of Mr. Kane is overshadowing her, as if Mr. Kane always was better and more powerful than her. Another example is when Mr. Thompson is reading the papers that Mr. Alexander left enable to find the mystery behind “Rosebud” , in that scene you Can’t really read what the paper says but they focus the light on the paper with some kind of glow that again makes it look almost divine.

Moreover Citizen Kane was more important even after it was released. The time period of the movie influences in the plot and the elements the director used .In the movie Mr. Kane used yellow journalism, he wanted to make headlines so the “Inquire’’ would be the best newspaper. In the scene were Kane just takes over the, “Inquire’’ he is talking to the main publisher of the newspaper. They argue because Kane just wants to make headlines he didn’t care if it would ruin the credibility of the newspaper.

The movie Citizen Kane was always in deep focus, no matter how close they got to the person or objects the back was always in focus. They are several repeated techniques like the use of low camera angles ,flashbacks and deep focus photography.The use of flashbacks throughtout the whole movie was brilliant , Welles perfectionazed this techinique and made it his own.In my opinion the diffrent aproach that Welles took on camra angles amde this movie so unique.

September 14th, 2012

A Gangster Film

   “The Public enemy”, a film by William Wellman and produced by Warner Brother productions, is a very violent and controversial film at the time it was released (1931). The use of violence and brutality are very detailed and somehow graphic. They are several parts of the film that at the time was very controversial .The society was not accustomed to films portraying the reality of a gangster life and the reality of how women were treated. The scene were James Cagney (Tom) throws a grapefruit into Mae Clarks (Kitty) face was very violent and vicious as some would say, the scene was very shocking to the audience and made us think that men could treat women violently and nothing would happen, although it was during the time that women’s role in society were changing, women became more independent and started to take on a bigger role in the society. Furthermore most of the violent scenes are implied and not shown, the audience is usually just able to hear what happened or we see the consequences of the violence act. For example the scene were Tom goes and kills the horse that killed his friend, we cannot graphically observe this scene but it implies that Toms kills the Horse with a gunshot and you can hear the act. Additionally the scene were Tom is brought to his house brutally beaten and murdered was one of the most shocking scenes in my perspective , The director couldn’t let the ”bad guy” just live happily ever after , it was obvious that something bad was going to happen to tom but It still was a  total shock. In this scene you never see what really happened to him but he is brought to his home dead, again the most brutal scenes are never shown they are just implied. Although Tony seemed as a bad guy for being a gangster, treating women badly and killing anyone that didn’t do as he pleased , you develop a love/hate towards his character , I think that’s what the director wanted to create  so the audience can develop a relationship towards his character even though he was  portrayed as a ”bad guy”. Overall the film was very violent but at the same time it doesn’t show graphically lots of it, the gangster movie shocked the society at the time and it became very popular.

 

September 6th, 2012

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