SCREEN-L Archives

August 2000, Week 4


Options: Use Monospaced Font
Show Text Part by Default
Show All Mail Headers

Message: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Topic: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]
Author: [<< First] [< Prev] [Next >] [Last >>]

Print Reply
mike chopra-gant <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 22 Aug 2000 18:04:15 +0100
text/plain (46 lines)
Sandy Camargo comments:

Anyway, the point I wanted to make was that it isn't
> only the act of looking but how the narrative codes that act. Since I
> know SARATOGA TRUNK, I don't know if Bergman's gaze is ratified or
> by the narrative as a whole.

I realise that SARATOGA TRUNK is now a little known film, despite its
popularity at the time (lost, like many of the most popular films of the
period, as a consequence of film studies concentration on films
noirs as the emblematic films of the period).  The reason that it is
such a good antidote to *Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema* is precisely
because Bergman's objectifying gaze and her predatory sexuality are not
*punished* by the narrative.
It would probably be going too far to say they were ratified although the
narrative does hold out the possibility that she will achieve everything she
wants until the very end of the film and her ultimate submission to Cooper's
authority at the film's end is
portrayed as the act of a free agent who forgoes ambition for love.  There
are undoubtedly those who would argue that her submission to Cooper is a
*punishment* for her transgressive behaviour but I don't see anything in the
film which authorises such a reading, and to interpret the film in this way,
I feel, is to impose a reading which exceeds the text because one is
approaching it from a theoretical perspective which has certain
expectations, i.e. that women characters in films who objectify men must be
*punished*.  Perhaps the most interesting thing about this film is the way
it avoids either ratifying or *punishing* but leaves things nicely
ambiguous, not only in relation to gender but in the way it handles race and
class too.  Ambiguity, however, is rather difficult to theorise in the
grand, generalising terms employed in *Visual Pleasure and Narrative
Cinema*, which is another reason the film is so useful for challenging some
of Mulvey's arguments.

Mike Chopra-Gant
Goldsmiths College
University of London

[log in to unmask]

Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite