Sunday, 1 March 2009

my response to 'Lara Croft:Tomb Raider'

Lara Croft - Feminist icon or object for the 'Male Gaze'?

The character of Lara Croft can be seen as a controversial figure in film. Despite fulfilling the role of a strong and independent individual, her attractive and seductive qualities make this portrayal of a feminist icon questionable. Starting out as a video game, Lara Croft was predominately appreciated by a male audience, which encouraged the same spectators to remain avid fans of the films. However, this sexualised young female is not solely a construction for the male gaze, as she is also admired and respected by a female audience.

Many micro elements help to depict Lara in a way that makes her appeal to a male audience. In the opening scene, we are exposed to a close up of her face, accentuating the beauty in her defining features. This shot is intimate and seductive, and generally one that would only be used on a female character. The camera then crops in from her hips down to her legs, framing her sexual appeal and fragmenting her body.

Lara is one of the very few women shown throughout the film. This lack of female presence heightens Lara’s significance further, making her representative of the female population. This could be seen as a way of either emphasising her importance and dominance, or setting her up as the only sexual object for all the men who surround her, therefore belittling her status. The job of a ‘Tomb Raider’ allows Lara to perform typically masculine tasks and actions, making her enviable and admired by the male characters within the film. Their main purpose is accompanying and assisting Lara as she completes ‘missions’, but the men are also portrayed as spectators of her body. Certain scenes consist of them watching from behind as she walks away, placing the audience in the role of the spectator, looking at her body in a ‘scopophilic’ way.

The short scene in which Lara takes a shower is constructed purely for the satisfaction of a male audience. It is an extreme example of fragmentation of the female body as it frames her body in a visually attractive, sexualised way. The warm, seductive lighting that floods the room coupled with the low, harmonious music helps create the intimate atmosphere that almost accuses the audience of ‘spying’. The camera places the audience behind a thin curtain, which allows us to see the vague outlined image of Lara’s naked body. This also places the spectator in the room with her, forcing them to be subjected to the ‘scopophilic gaze’.

Despite the strength and independence shown though the character of Lara, her weakness is seen through the device of her father. He is the most important man in her life and her emotional side is exemplified only when he is mentioned in the scene. She looks up to him as a dominant male figure, possibly proving her limitation when it comes to men.

Lara Croft presents a contradictory character within the context of the film. She is a powerful female figure who, at the same time, fulfils a voyeuristic, eroticised purpose and ultimately, serves as ‘eye-candy’ for a male audience. It is unclear to say which aspect overrules the other, as both her roles are vital in completing the effect that the film has and what ultimately makes it successful. It could be argued that Croft simply uses her obvious sexual appeal to her advantage with men, in order to fully establish the dominant status she seems to have over them. This is exemplified as at the end of the film as woman triumphs over man, proving the powerful and iconic image that Croft holds, despite also being a object of sexual desire that is subjected to the ‘male gaze’.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Sophia Coppola Research!!

Sofia Carmina Coppola (born May 14, 1971) is an American film director, actress, producer and Academy Award-winning screenwriter. She is the third female director, and only American woman, to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing, the other two being Lina Wertmüller and Jane Campion.


Marie Antoinette (2006) ... aka Marie Antoinette (France)
VOID (Video Overview in Deceleration) (2005) (V) (segment "This Here Giraffe")
Lost in Translation (2003)
The Virgin Suicides (1999) ... aka Sofia Coppola's the Virgin Suicides (USA: complete title)
Lick the Star (1998)
Bed, Bath and Beyond (1996)
Her first three films were
Lick the Star (1998), The Virgin Suicides (1999) and Lost in Translation (2003). Lost in Translation won the Academy Award for original screenplay and three Golden Globe Awards including Best Picture. With her Oscar nomination for Best Director (for Lost in Translation), Coppola became the third female director, and only American woman, to be nominated for an Academy Award for Directing. Her win for best original screenplay made her a third-generation Oscar winner. In 2004, Coppola was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.[4]
Coppola's most recent film is the biopic Marie Antoinette, adapted from the biography by British historian Lady Antonia Fraser. Kirsten Dunst plays the title character who marries King Louis XVI, played by Jason Schwartzman, Coppola's cousin. It débuted at the Cannes Film Festival where, despite boos in the audience, it received a standing ovation.[5] Critics were divided.
In the mid-1990s, she and best friend
Zoe Cassavetes helmed the short-lived series Hi Octane on Comedy Central. which spotlighted performers in underground music, with frequent guests like Donovan Leitch, Mike Watt, Thurston Moore, Beck, and model-actress Jenny Shimizu (whose contribution to the show was educating viewers on the proper way to repair a transmission on a vehicle).
In December 2008, Coppola's first commercial premiered during an episode of
Gossip Girl. The advertisement in which she directed for the Christian Dior fragrance Miss Dior Chérie which was shot in France with model Maryna Linchuk was very well received and continues to be popular on YouTube.[6]

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

My response to 'The Idiots'

The Idiots was made in 1998 by director Lars Von Trier, and comments on issues to do with mentally ill. It focuses on a group of intelligent and healthy individuals that decide to "spass out" in order to release their "inner idiot". They form a type of commune in order to do this and often venture out, using their "illness" as an advantage to get away with something or create sympathy and pity for themselves. This very idea in itself is shocking as it degrades and satirizes the people who actually suffer from the mental illness. This is why I found the scene with the genuinely ill people extremely uncomfortable and awkward to watch, whether these people were aware actors or just unknowingly being filmed, they were performing along side people that had previously been imitating the nature of their illness, even if it was for film purposes, it still willingly took place. This allowed the audience to see a real contrast between the reality of the illness and the impersonations of it. For the majority of the film, the "spassing" only takes place in the company of the rest of the group and is therefore seen as an escape for them that they can only express in certain environments. However the character of Stoffer wants more than this and urges that each individual carries out their mentally ill "act" in their usual environments back at home. This proves to be the breaking point of most people as we realize that one of the women is actually on medication and some of the others cannot face up to people they know. This proves the "just for fun" nature of what they do and emphasizes how wrong it is. The ultimate scene provides the audience with their first inspection of the life of Karen, the newest member of "The Idiots". Attempting to follow Stoffer's instructions, she goes home to the family she abandoned 2 weeks previous on the day of her son’s funeral. This performance is heartbreaking as the tension in the room is felt, the camera is placed in the tight and claustrophobic confides of the living room as the characters and the audience await her explanations. When Karen does start her "act", it is embarrassing and shameful to watch, shortly brought to an abrupt end by the slap she receives from her husband. This ultimately provides a conclusion to the issues in the film and shows how adopting such characteristics and qualities can lead to humiliation and self-degradation, along with the loss of self respect from others.

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

My response to 'The Accused'

The Accused was made in 1988 by director Jonathan Kaplan. It stars Jodie Foster as a female rape victim whose case is controversial as it is suspected that she provoked the act itself. The film opens with her escaping the bar in which she was raped and running out into the night in attempt to get away. The adrenaline, panic and sinister mood of this scene is suddenly contrasted with the clinical and bright atmosphere of the hospitalised rape ward. This structured procedure takes all emotion and consideration out of the situation which is quite shocking as it puts the audience in the room with them, forcing to see clearly and vividly was it being assessed. Throughout the film, we get brief descriptions and then a detailed account of the rape from the victim herself. This build up could be seen to reduce the ultimate shock of the revelance of the rape but it could also make the audience think they will not see the actual rape in full. Therefore i think that when you do see the rape it is actually extremely shocking as it emphasises her vulnerability and lack of dignity. The camera is placed along with the other men jeering on the rape and therefore situates the audience as spectators and witnesses of the crime. This is unnerving and makes you feel uncomfortable as a viewer , especially as a woman i felt sympathy for the female character and disgust towards the men. I think that this film is a shocking and powerful example of a gang rape case that portrays it with effective camerawork and performance, forcing the audience in to and uncomfortable and confrontational position.

My response to 'Life of Brian'

Monty Python's 1979 film, 'Life of Brian' is often classed as a piece of shocking cinema as it takes a satirical approach to the story of Jesus Christ. It comments on the life of a Jewish man named Brian Cohen who is living in the same place and time of Jesus Christ and is therefore mistaken to be the Messiah. This connection allows for director Terry Jones to draw many similarities between the two stories and ultimately make fun of the original. The issues raised in the 'Life of Brian' were seen as quite controversial on the release of the film and probably would have offended many Christians at the time. However as time has moved on and certain non-religious views have become more accepted, the shock factor of the film has predominately decreased. Personally, as an individual that holds no religious beliefs, i do not find the film shocking and consequently, am able to see the comic, humorous side to it. However i can see how Christians nowadays would still find particular scenes offensive and derogatory to their religion.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

My shocking scene!

This is the scene i have chosen from the film 'A Clockwork Orange', i find it shocking as the brutality of the rape is contrasted with the assumed jollity of the song 'singing in the rain' which is being sung at the same time. The rape is taking place in broad daylight in the 'safety' of the victims home and is therefore an untypical atmosphere for such a disturbing act.