In her essay, “Women's Cinema as Counter-Cinema”, Claire Johnston proposed a path to creating Women's cinema to counter the numerous dominant male-oriented mainstream films. In it, she argues that you must first understand the ideology that is found in mainstream movies, and the ways that women are portrayed within it. She determined that there were two principle concepts to understand: how women are visually represented, and the effect that women have upon the creation of meaning within the film. The how refers to all the film techniques used in the creation of the image: lighting, hair, makeup, choice of lens, choice of wardrobe, and the framing of the camera shot are some examples. These ...view middle of the document...
The essay creates an intersection of film theory, psychoanalysis, and feminism. Using Jacques Lacan's interpretation of Sigmund Freud's theories on sexual development, which focuses heavily upon the sexual differences between men and women, provides a lense through which to view the way that women are visually represented. The result is a theory that focuses primarily upon the impact the film text has upon the viewer. Mulvey expands upon the work previously done by Johnston in regards to the visual representation of women in film, coining a new term, “to-be-looked-at-ness”. This term references the techniques used to increase the beauty of women in film, causing her to become primarily a spectacle to be gazed at. This functions on two levels, first as an erotic object for the male characters on screen, and secondly as an erotic object for the audience. She asserts that this is combined with the narrative in mainstream Hollywood movies in ways that reinforce the imbalance of power seen in films.
The first impact this has upon the film is that her presense functions to temporarily suspend the action of the plot as the audience is invited to consider her beauty. Oftentimes, the female character is shot in such a way as to isolate body parts away from the rest of her person. Close ups focusing on the female character's feet, legs, or any body part serves to decontruct her into an object rather than a whole, complete person. These shots are often done with a Point of View shot from the perspective of the male protagonist, leaving the female character to be a passive object to the active, subjective gaze of the male character, placing him into a position of power. This leaves women viewing the film with a choice, to identify with the female character being objectified, or to adopt the male character's view and objectify the female character.
In order to preserve the deigesis of the film, this objectification must also be integrated into the narrative, despite the female character having temporarily halted the action. This is accomplished by having her have an impact upon the male character. She is not important to the narrative, but what is often important are the emotions that the male protagonist experiences while objectifying her. Budd Boetticher, most well known for the series of low budget westerns he directed in the 1950s, summarized this aptly in _____. “"What counts is what the heroine provokes, or rather what she represents. She is the one, or rather the love or fear she inspires in the hero, or else the concern he feels for her, who makes him act the way he does. In herself the woman has not the slightest importance."
Need a segue paragraph here.
The film, Star Trek Into Darkness, directed by J.J. Abrams, opens with Captain Kirk running from the indigenous inhabitants of an undeveloped world, while Commander Spock is being dressed by Liutennant Uhura in armor so that he can enter a volitile volcano to quell the impending...