The film theory along with criticism have had an enormous impact of the social movement regarding feminism. According to opinions given by Anneke Smelik, cinema is regarded as a cultural practice that represents myths in accordance with femininity & women as well (Goodnow, 2010). This also has an inclusion of masculinity & men. Most of the Hollywood films have been directing feminist criticism within women stereotypes. The continuous and repeating image of women displayed in films were started to be considered as an objectionable distortion. Since decades, psychoanalysis has proven to be dominant fact in the feminist theory of Anneke Smelik. Referring to the current time, diversified perspectives, spectatorships & identities have been taken into consideration.
This has proven to be a step away from sexual difference understanding. This essay clearly depicts the femininity & women myths by aid of Sally Potter's Orlando. The film hovers around its protagonist Orlando which is played by Tilda Swinton. The film has strongly depicted that women instead of being recognised by wealth and power of husbands, fathers; they shall be known from their individual identities instead of possession.
One of the very first feminist critics Claire Johnston through a semiotic viewpoint offered a sustained stereotype critic. Also, she investigated the myth in accordance with the 'woman'. The analysation of woman is done as code or structure. The image of women in films is usually displayed in negative manner and are instead depicted as 'not man' (Railo, 2014). The classical cinema is usually characterized by the ideal construction. In these constructed images women have been represented as attractive, realistic and natural as well. This is regarded as the illusion of classical-cinema. Orlando initially is depicted to be a nobleman who is a strong feminine. Through his poetry he tries to every member within the society. One day suddenly he wakes up as a woman.
As a woman, Orlando gets mocked and humiliated from other poets because of being a misfit in society. The film has depicted that society only sees women on the basis of their attractiveness and they are meant to satisfy men. Many women are not able to differentiate this gender criticism and usually get shunned by the criticism of society. But the feminine nature of Orlando provided her an illumination and empowerment as well to criticize this disrespect shown to a woman. This proved to be an effective transformation from the male Orlando who was indeed clueless.
The fascination in Hollywood cinema is also depicted clearly by the psychoanalysis utilised by Laura Mulvey in article of 'Visual-Pleasure and Narrative-cinema'. The desire for looking is stimulated by classical cinema. This is attained by integration of narcissism & voyeurism within the storyline. When one person looks at another as their object, voyeuristic visual-pleasure is produced. On the other hand, identifying oneself within the image provides a narcissistic visual-pleasure. Also, male character is usually classified as powerful and active.
He is depicted as the centre of attraction around which the whole melodramatic story unfolds. On the other hand female-character is treated as a desirable object for men who is powerless & passive. Voyeurism has been made towards prerogative male-oriented. In theatres, when a narration of film is done, male leads direct heir gaze towards the female ones. The male-look is treated as the identification indicative for the spectator. This happens because the viewpoints of male character are the basis of the camera-rolling to make film (Slobodian, 2012).
This concepts of voyeurism and narcissism have proven that the cinema is tailored in order for desires of men. Henceforth, these traditional narratives should be shunned down and formulation of a counter-cinema should be done in accordance with women. Referring to Orlando, when he was transformed into a female body, she has to face a lot of critical response and harsh comments of society. Being a feminine personality she gathered enough courage to deal with such entities. Also, she also depicted those women who had the potential of deciding their own fate.
The creation of female counter cinema should lead towards having an practice of making avant grade films. This would further make the camera roll on the basis of materiality within time & space. Also, the audience will be able to look upon passion-able detachments along with dialectics. This will lead towards the declining of the classical cinematic viewpoint and in addition destroy visual pleasures of the spectators. In Sally Potter's Orlando, the feminist approach towards cinema was depicted (Smelik and Lykke, 2010). When Orlando gives birth to a beautiful daughter, her character gets transformed into a mindful, daring & caring mother who follows her own principles. She was also clearly depicted as an free minded character independent of the indeterminate blessings from noble-category titles and other things as well which do not defin e her at all.
The structure of male gaze logic within the visual-culture of Western led to the formulation of many controversies. The reason for this was that there was no inclusion of female spectators nor even female-gaze. In fact, Mulvey was being highly criticized for not indulging the main question of female spectatorship. To this Mulvey provided a suggestion that besides identification of feminine passiveness, the female spectators could also adopt the masculine viewpoint. As per Mulvey, the transexual identifying and spectatorship is regarded to be active both for girls & boys in an equal manner.
And in order to do so, women have to omit active aspects regarding sexuality in early stage. So, to rediscover the pleasure of their lost sexual identity female spectators might have to negotiate their spectator's position's masculinisation.
Female spectators are considered to have more fluency in their capacity of identifying the other gender. This is considered as the general assumption regarding the feminist film -theory. The feminine position of the Orlando character emerged out to be a centre of attraction to all the female spectators.
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The image of women over the screen relates their relation with masquerade notion. Masquerade is usually regarded as a mask of femininity. This can be more clearly understood. When women find themselves at a position regarding males, they place a mask of femininity over their face. Usually this assists in the functioning in accordance with compensating masculine-position of them (Feminist Film Theory, 2017). The female spectators are found out to be highly consumed by their image. This could further be avoided only by identifying as a transsexual perspective along with the effective role of masquerade. It allows the existence of distance from image for female spectators. When a women is effectively able to wear the mask of femininity, a necessary difference would be established between the screen's femininity and the one possessed within her. When Orlando was a feminine as a male, he was often found depicting his viewpoints by aid of poetry. But as a female when she tries to enter the poetry line, she was criticized for not staying in the boundaries.
But, the feminine position of the earlier male Orlando provided her the necessary illumination in relation to criticizing all such mock comments. Also, in addition to this, as a feminist she tries to establish herself as an independent women which is definitely opposing the society limits. Though being a feminine as male Orlando, he was a bit over-sensitive and always found himself in the position of not being helping. In fact he was treated as love casualty.
Although there are many critics in relation with feminist films that have formulated darkest possible scenarios. These scenarios have been written on the basis of female looks towards depicting themselves as male, masochist or male oriented. Phallic women have often been considered as the one who represent contradicting femininity image that have expanded on the far side gaze which is reifying-nature. The ambiguousness of vamp can prove to provide visual pleasures to female spectators. Focus has also been laid upon mother being considered as an object of love.
This could also emerge out be another potential source providing visual pleasures. Also, masochism is as well regarded as the visual pleasure source which depicts enhancement in the power of father over mother. But the evoking done from cinema has finally made return possible towards unity's phase with mother. Henceforth, female spectators could possibly draw visualised pleasures from cinema of strong femme fatale. In the film Orlando, the high degree of feminism was shown towards the spectators.
This was strongly justified when the the female Orlando was allowed to gather immense pleasure when she was gifted the motherhood. She was depicted as an independent women riding a motorbike which is symbol of masculinity. She was depicted as a free minded mother who possess control of their own life and suitably depicts herself as a perfect fit within the era of modern world. The film Orlando is centred upon desires of female-Orlando to depict herself as a mother. The film was subjective towards female viewpoints and also showcases the passionate relationship between the mother & daughter.
The existence of sexual differences have led to the rising of contrast in psychoanalytic film theory. It has failed to lay their focus upon other existing differences as well which include race, class, age & sexual-preferences. The Orlando film hovers around the female protagonist Orlando who after being transformed from male body gets illuminated by her feminist viewpoints (Orlando as a feminist film, 2011). This illumination proves as a basis of motivation through which she fights the criticism faced from male poets and other members of society. Women are only meant to provide pleasures to men, cook food for them. This was totally contrasted when Orlando gets to become a mother. This shuns all the criticism faced by her till now as a female. In addition to this she clearly passes all the barriers of limits & boundations made for women.
There also occurs sexual differences in feminism. This is in accordance with exclusion of black women from the diversified representation forms. The occurrence of sexual differences along with their preferences will lead towards making other representable forms more thinkable. Despite many efforts, there has been a convincing argument. Black and white film-makers find it very difficult to deal the highly criticized stereotyped images of black women.
The studies on the basis of masculinity were later established in feminist film theory. In accordance to them, diversified images of masculinity as contemporary one are often found hovering around masochism as well as hysteria. A questionable condition was depicted by hysteria. But in contrast with the modern technology, men are found to be equally subjective towards trauma & shock.
Overall it can be concluded that a level of diversity has been introduced in the feminist film theory. The Hollywood has now been increasingly conquered by young and talented women film makers. They have successfully established themselves in various genres of action, comedy, horror, adventure and many more. Also, the gender differentiation has also been omitted by the increase in homosexual & transgender film-makers. Also the already built image of women of classical cinema as an object of pleasure, has been broken by the independent nature of modern women. The films are now being more oriented towards depicting women as independent entities.
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Also, the film Orlando clearly led to the formulation a women can be caring, daring, mindful and modern at the same time. She definitely posses the authority to have a control of their own life. The film also led to the formulation of theory that women cannot be categorised on the basis of their husband's or father's wealth status. The values of women get formulated from the identity established on their own despite the possessions inbuilt within her. The diversified viewpoints as well as cinematic styles & genres have depicted the struggle of women for representing themselves over silver-screen. So there should be no sort of gender discrimination and female film makers shall be offered equal opportunities of establishing themselves within the modern era. They should thrive the stereotypes and always try going beyond any limits.
Goodnow, K. J., 2010. Kristeva in focus: From theory to film analysis. Berghahn Books.
Railo, E., 2014. Women's Magazines, the Female Body, and Political Participation. NORA-Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research. 22(1). pp.48-62.
Slobodian, J., 2012. Analyzing the woman auteur: the female/feminist gazes of Isabel Coixet and Lucrecia Martel. The Comparatist. 36(1). pp.160-177.
Smelik, A. M. and Lykke, N. eds., 2010. Bits of life: Feminism at the intersections of media, bioscience, and technology. University of Washington Press.
Chapter 1: Introduction
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