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February 1994


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louis schwartz <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 18 Feb 1994 11:29:12 -0600
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On Fri, 18 Feb 1994, Mark Bunster wrote:
> I must say I've never seen the words "masculinist" and "dialogue driven" used
> together to describe typical Hollywood fare...they seem at opposite poles,
> don't you think? I would use the former to describe, say, Terminator, and the
> latter for, uh, Beaches. Not much of the other in either film, really.
Actual each of the films you mention are both. Terminator is dialogue
driven in that its story is given to us by the dialogue rather than the
image. The future machine society and the origin of the terminator, his
mission etc. are all explained rather than shown. The figuration of the
feminine in Beaches is not outside patriarchal ideology. The beauty of the
Piano is its attempt to displace that ideology precisely for a silence that
pushes aside the voice with writing, gesture and music (which once upon a
time was the stuff of cinema). Hunter's character's silence takes on a
phalic character (in the Lacanian sense) in so far as it is not an absence
of speech but a force of desire. This is why Neil cuts off her finger. This
is a castration, not because of any isomorphism between finger and penis,
but because the fingers are the "organs" through which Hunter's character
is able to harness gesture, music and writing as a force of desire. However,
because Hunter's power is phalic without being the phalus (it is as
Cixous writes "a little bit of the phalus) they can be multiple, and the
loss of a finger does not in and of itself disenfranchise Hunter. My only
real problem with the piano is that by moving towards speech at the end
Hunter is abandoning her own power and acceding to the normative symbolic