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November 1995, Week 1


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 3 Nov 1995 13:50:55 EST
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> Thanks in advance to anyone who responds to this:
> I am beginning to research a paper on the question of moral ambiguity in male
> and female characters in film, dealing with the primary issue that this
> quality has been allowed in male characters (hero/anti-hero), and not in
> female characters.  I want to use examples in modern film that show that bias
> is slowly changing, allowing female characters more shading and dynamic
> range.  My intent is to use examples from early film (D.W. Griffith, German
> Expressionists, Classical Hollywood Cinema, Film Noir, the reactionary 50's
> era films, up through the modern), to trace the development of moral
> ambiguity.
Actually, I would wonder how much this has to do with the Hayes code.
Pre-code films I can think of do seem to have morally ambiguous female
central figures. I'm thinking about Von Sternberg at the moment:
Blonde Venus
The Blue Angel
Recently, take a look at _Badlands_ and Sissy Spacek's character.
Also, is this limited to American films. I think, for instance about
Truffaut's female characters i.e., in _Jules & Jim_.
Maybe look at the vamp characters in silent films. Some more
interesting than others, obviously. _Pandora's Box_ comes to mind.
_Working Girl_ (and _Girls_, both, I suppose) with a moral range in
terms of career.
Also, _Thelma and Louise_ is interesting, but I don't know if that's
what it seems. Not much range in there, not nearly as much as there's
perceived to me IMHO.
Also, also, in many films women to me have read less like characters
and more like metaphor (esp. in 50's film, say...)
Some titles come to mind, just vaguely:
_The Last Seduction_
(counterpoint to noir)
Noir itself, and the moral complexities involved in it. Ida Lupino
films (_Roadhouse_, etc.)
_Silence of the Lambs_
Oh well, I don't know how useful some of this is. Just brainstorming.
Cheryl Gilbert
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