Archive for December, 2011

Analysis Project #2: The Gaze and Representation of Gender

The gaze is a representation of power; as they look upon their subject they maintain a sense of control.  The subject is usually seen as inferior as they are unaware they are being watched.  Typically, it is a male gazing upon a female; for this reason it is called the “male gaze” at times.  Females are represented in an inferior manner.  Not only are they unaware of being watched, but they are also killed when they do something wrong or inappropriate.  Femme fatales are killed in most films as they must pay for the wrong they have done.

In the movie Psycho, we see an example of the gaze and inferior representation of women.  Marion is on the run to see her lover after stealing money from a customer when she stops at the “Bates Motel”.  Bates gives her the first room, directly next to the office so he can be of service at any time and offers her dinner.  Hungry, she accepts the offer.  Soon after, she overhears an argument between Bates and his mother where she degrades Marion’s character or any female; claiming she will not feed her since they solely have a sick, sexual interest with each other.  The mother does not approve of Marion who she sees just as a sexual being.  Shortly after, Bates brings the food to Marion instead of bringing her over to the home.

Bates decides against eating in Marion’s hotel room due to his fear of his mother finding it inappropriate.  He invites her to eat in a parlor he has behind the office after finding the office would be uncomfortable.  In this parlor, there are many birds surrounding the room.  As Marion settles down in her seat and begins to eat, it appears the birds are hawking over.  The stuffed birds hanging over her are looking down to her, a symbolism that females are inferior.  After an extremely uncomfortable and eerie conversation with Bates, Marion leaves to her room to shower and rest.

Bates waits a few minutes before taking down a picture frame of a bird, revealing a peep hole directed toward the bathroom in the first room.  He creepily looks through and watches as Marion undresses.  Marion, of course, is unaware of him watching her, proving the theory where females exist simply to be looked at.  As a spectator, we feel it is wrong to be watching her as she is unaware of someone gazing upon her.  Through this scene, Hitchcock causes the viewers to become a gazer and feel a bit disturbed as they watch the film.

Shortly after, Bates’ mother kills Marion as she showers; a scene that is infamously known as the “shower scene”.  There are no shot-reverse-shots during this scene; we only see Marion being attacked, causing suspense as to who is the murderer.  Although we never see the knife inflict Marion, we are aware of her being killed with the blood flowing in the water and the very manipulative, loud and suspenseful music.  This scene also proves the theory where women are punished or killed for their “wrong-doings”.  Marion had made a mistake, like everyone else in the world, and decided to fix that mistake and return the money she had stolen.  However, she could not get away with what she had done.  She did not just steal; she was also seen as a sexual being who must be killed.

We see this representation of females throughout many films.  Another example may be Double Indemnity, where the woman is shot and killed after manipulating an insurance salesman to commit fraud and murder her husband.   Through the gaze, we see how inferior women are portrayed as.  They are completely unaware of their gazer and are punished for being sexual beings.  Bates commits all the murders with no remorse and is placed in a mental institution while Marion is killed for regretfully stealing and obliviously being a sexual being.  This film, amongst others, proves the “male gaze”, where women are to simply be looked at and punished for it.

 

Extra Credit- Modern Times Clip

 

Modern Times- Factory Scene

 

Charlie Chaplin’s film, Modern Times, is a comedy with the iconic character “Little Tramp”.  This film follows the life of the Little Tramp played by Chaplin.  Chaplin faces constant obstacles as he is accident-prone and must suffer the unfortunate consequences of his clumsiness.  His clumsiness provides humor and drama for the film.

Chaplin composed his own musical score for the film and provided very little dialogue.  The only time we hear dialogue is when the boss of the factory gives orders through a television and during an announcement made on a phonogram.  Chaplin never speaks; the only time we hear his voice is during a scene where he sings at the café he works at.  Some people may be skeptical to watch a silent film but this film did not need any dialogue.  The music Chaplin provides is fun, entertaining and supplies enthusiasm to the viewers.  There is no need for dialogue as the visual and musical score tell the story to a great extent.

In this clip, Chaplin is a factory worker who suffers a nervous breakdown.  The editing goes unnoticeable but there is an implied message behind this scene.  As Chaplin works on the conveyor belt, he is literally driven insane by the repetitive inhuman work.  Modern Times was filmed during the aftermath of America’s greatest depression.  Chaplin’s breakdown as a factory worker symbolizes the anxiety of people coping with the social and economical problems of the 1930’s.

Furthermore, Chaplin is used as a guinea pig to test a machine that would feed the workers in this clip.  The creators of the feeding machine believe their invention is the future but, where are our feeding machines now?  This scene reminded me of The Jetsons, a cartoon series of a family living in the future.  It was believed that by the year 2000, we would have flying cars.  Essentially, we have all assumed that machines would run the world by now and this scene showcases just that.  They are attempting to invent the next best thing as it is assumed humans will not need to work since machines will take over.

This clip shows the rise of machinery and technology.  They predicted machines would help mankind and it has.  With all the technology we have today, such as cell phones and computers, we are at a constant rise of machinery.  Today, no one would leave their home without their cell phone nor can they imagine writing a paper by hand.  All this leads to the question, what will they come up with next and when am I going to get to fly my car?

I really enjoyed Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.  It is fun, entertaining and provided enthusiasm to the viewers with its musical score. Chaplin’s clumsiness provided most of the humor and drama throughout the film.  Aside from entertainment, Chaplin was able to provide a more serious storyline through his character as a factory worker.  He shows the anxiety people were facing as they were coping with problems of the 1930’s.  There is not a dull moment in this film and if you enjoy this clip, I highly recommend you watch the entire film.

Breathless

Film is an arrangement of images edited together to form a story.  The editing can be seen as an expression of the filmmaker’s ideas.  I found Breathless amusing; the creative editing use of jump cuts captivated my attention.  As we watch films, we usually embrace the life of the characters we are watching and temporarily place our own to the side.  However, this use of jump cuts would disrupt the continuous shots and had me focus more on the message of the film rather than the character’s story.  Films cause the viewers to react and think, making them more of a participant rather than just a viewer and Breathless did just that.

I also found the film to be humorous.  The main character, Michael, appeared to be a ladies’ man and spoke down to females yet he was helplessly in love with Patricia.  He was constantly contradicting himself.  His devious ways, such as the time when he rejects money, then steals it directly after she places it back in her purse, was comical.

The closing dialogue was humorous yet left me somewhat confused.   The officer translates Michael’s last words to Patricia incorrectly and we are left wondering, did he intentionally translate incorrectly or was it a true misunderstanding?  Aside from the confusing ending statement, I really enjoyed this film.  It was different and because of the jump cuts, it did not feel as though it dragged on.

La Jetee

La Jetee is a short film containing a series of still images.  Using voiceover, the narrator provides a story for the viewers.  It begins with a boy witnessing a man being killed at an airport.  The story continues with the memories of a man being experimented on.  Although it is unlike any other film- there are no moving images except for that one instant where the lady blinks, I found the story captivating.

The images are first seen very lonely until we are introduced to his lady friend.  As his fascination of the lady dims, she goes away.  They bring her back into his thoughts by whispering to him and she reappears.  During a date at the museum, they both appear happy.  However, when war is mentioned their faces are distorted and black spots appear.  This distortion provides a sense of negativity from the man’s memories of the war.

I really liked the way the story was structured.  As a spectator, we do not know who the man is or why he was murdered.  Also, we do not yet understand the purpose of introducing us to this little boy witnessing this murder.  As the story progresses, we learn they are attempting an experiment on time travel to avoid deaths and war.  We follow the man traveling to the time pre-war and are led to the airport where the story initially took place at.  We then learn that the little boy had witnessed his own death.  That ending was completely unexpected, which is what made it captivating, different and great.

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