Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Male Gaze & Godard

Since beginning our exploration of Godard begin in September, I've both struggled and enjoyed the texts we've been reading. What has interested myself the most has been how he has portrayed and framed his female characters. One text that has entered into my mind during each of our viewings is Laura Mulvey's “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema”. The male gaze is indulged in so many of Godard's films, for example the opening scene in “Contempt” the strip club sequences in “A Woman is a Woman” or even when we meet Patricia for the first time “Breathless”. These scenes happen before we've been able to have a relationship with these characters and they initially signify sexuality and are further defined by the men who need or desire them.

Anna Karina in "A Woman is a Woman"

Brigitte Bardot in "Contempt"

The women we have watched in “My life to Live”, “Breathless” and “2 or 3 things I Know about Her” appear to independent in the beginning, but slowly the curtain falls and we see they are searching for more and somehow their sexuality allows them to find salvation or a path to gain success. They are forced to be passive to achieve monetary gain, subjected consistently to be with a man in order to be a 'modern women'; whether it is paying rent, buying new clothes or getting a write an article for Herald Tribune.

The First time we meet Patricia in "Breathless"
Throughout our viewings in class, I also thought about how Hitchcock and Godard compare in their usage of female characters. Hitchcock, like Godard, places women in the passive role of the gaze. His women are always an image of perfection, never having to sell themselves for sex. The deepest moral falls usually involving murder or thievery. They rely on  men for other reasons, to maintain a certain lifestyle, social success or to keep their fragile mental states in tact. When we meet the infamous heroines like Lisa Fremont "Rear WIndow", she is also defined by her sexuality and need for a man, we rarely see her in the movie without James Stewart's character. Godard allows his females to be anti-heroines. They fill the passive roles, though they do hold the ability to escape, they just never seem to get the chance to take the active role. 


No comments:

Post a Comment