CIN105Y1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Melodrama, Film Culture

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6 Aug 2016
School
Department
Course
CIN105Y: Film and Feminism
Textual: film making modes and film texts (classical, art, radical, postmodern)
Intertextual: modes of film analysis that depend on making connections across films (stardom,
auteurs, genre)
Extratextual: film and the social world, publicity, reviews
- Relationship between films and social reality, and to certain social movements (feminism)
Gender in Art
There is, within the history of visual representation, a gendered division of labour that
always prevails  “Men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch
themselves being looked at.” Men as the maker of art, women as subject matter/the muse,
giving the man inspiration
When they both are the subject matter in art: Men - historical agent, engaged in the
world, active, and wilful. Female – characterised by static and passive pose, more body
than mind, more nature than culture, maximum visibility
When women do assume an active role in art, she is serving a symbolic function
Women’s role in the art world remain consistent across historical eras, the constant is the
nude female body/female as the subject matter (not the creator of art)
Cinema & Media
- “The history of boys taking pictures of girls”
The same division of labour serves to structure films narratively and stylistically. Example:
oNarratively: engaged into the world of the movie through the male characters on
the move. Sharing their perspective, see the women at the same time they do.
oStylistically: men are looking and women are being looked at. Men occupy a
space that has more depth (more space). Women are more locked in something
that is more shallow in nature, lit differently - glamour lighting/top lighting.
- Active male protagonists that move the story forward with their goals, initiative, and will,
and females who serve as a love interest, obstacle, or helper to the male
- If films feature active female characters that function as the engine of the story, they
don’t necessarily have to be beautiful/a spectacle  ability to achieve and do things, and
interact with the world around her
- Women filmmakers working in genres that are associated with women (melodrama,
romantic comedies) and also genres associated with men (war, action)
- Men still occupy the center of a story, only 5-10% are directed by women
Historical Developments: The Past and Ongoing Efforts of Film Culture
- Late 1960-70s the modern feminist movement – lead women to talk about and make
films in the hopes of contributing to a growing feminist film culture
- Problem: women are portrayed in a stereotypical fashion and negative light
oWriters produced works dedicated to women in cinema. Discussed that
mainstream films produce women as powerless and pure or sexual and
manipulative.
oFemale characters always as supporting roles and defined in relation to men as
their mothers, daughters, and secretaries.
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