70s7. The Woman's Film / Noir, the Sexual Revolution, and Klute


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70s7. The Woman's Film / Noir, the Sexual Revolution, and Klute

  1. 1. US Cinema of the 1970s: The Woman’s Film / Noir, the Sexual Revolution, and Klute Prof. Julia Leyda September 10, 2013
  2. 2. quiz Explain the ending of Klute. What happens in the visual images? What does Bree say in her voice-over narration? What do you think happens next?
  3. 3. 1940s woman’s films  about 1/3 of all 1940s Hollywood movies, aimed at large female audience  huge female stars: Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Bette Davis, Katherine Hepburn, Rosalind Russell  also called sentimental, melodramas, “weepies,” or soap operas (derogatory)  feminist film scholars have rescued the classic woman’s film from obscurity
  4. 4. conventions of woman’s films  featured domestic stories about romantic and family problems, maternal self-sacrifice  included romantic dramas, “fallen woman” films, Cinderella romances, working-girl movies  women’s difficult choices and sacrifices:  career vs. love / family  independence vs. love / family  her own happiness vs. children’s / husband’s  social, moral judgments
  5. 5. 1970s woman’s films maintain some conventions, revise others  less self-sacrifice, more personal development  less (but still some) punishment for sexual experience, pleasure  emphasis on women’s friendships, not just on romantic love and family  redefines happy ending: not always a couple  men also open to more emotion, self-exploration  clear impact of feminism and women’s liberation
  6. 6. 1970s woman’s films  Love Story (1970)  McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)  The Way We Were (1973)  Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (1975)  Julia (1977)  Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)  An Unmarried Woman (1978)  Coming Home (1978)  Norma Rae (1979)
  7. 7. sexual revolution and feminism  more permissive attitudes about sex:  porn  “swinging” singles and wife-swapping,  less stigma for singles, and couples living together  attention to women’s sexual desire and demands  greater acceptance of gays and lesbians
  8. 8. women in 1970s movies  Jane Fonda  Faye Dunaway  Barbara Streisand  Diane Keaton  Ellen Burstyn  Liza Minnelli  Sissy Spacek  Meryl Streep  roles for independent female characters  seeking to learn more about themselves  exploring new lifestyles, careers, ide ntities  questioning patriarchy  rejecting self-sacrifice  not putting men first
  9. 9. feminist ideological criticism  content analysis  character: representations of women as types (virgins, victims, sex objects)  plot: sexist society (women punished, repressed, killed)  mise-en-scène: atmosphere, motifs, costumes  cultural analysis  gender in society: can men and/or women escape patriarchy? can they live outside it?  is the movie sexist? feminist? backlash? ambivalent?
  10. 10. feminist ideological readings of Klute  Diane Giddis: Bree as main character (not Klute)  as she loses control of her life and emotions, she gets closer to losing her life  Bree isn’t “liberated”: moving in opposite direction, toward dependency  Ryan and Kellner: Bree as woman in modern US society  Bree’s apartment represents both her independence and her vulnerability  Bree’s taped voice represents her female role as soothing and encouraging the man, but she is acting a part, not herself  ending: Bree is tamed, protected, submits to male
  11. 11. feminist analysis of Klute  Christine Gledhill: neo-noir and place of woman  narrative structure: investigation of private life, sexuality  Klute and Cable spy on Bree  Cable hires Klute to investigate Cable  Bree hires therapist to investigate Bree  Klute investigates city’s immoral underworld  characterization  Klute: silent, puritanical  Bree: alienated sexuality = independent woman  voiceovers  Bree’s taped voice turned against her by Cable  Bree’s voiceover contradicting visual images
  12. 12. discussion questions  Do you think Klute is the main character, or Bree? Why is the movie title his name and not hers?  Do you think Bree is a liberated woman? Why or why not?  Compared to the other neo-noir, Chinatown, how does Klute portray women and female sexuality?
  13. 13. neo-noir corruption in Klute  noir contrast between surface social respectability vs. inner immorality or evil  drug and prostitution subcultures as “free,” but decadent and destructive  women as commodities: models, hookers  Bree’s internal conflict about her own self-worth; outwardly tough but sexually and emotionally immature, child-like  seemingly unlimited power of Cable, the rich businessman, to manipulate others  power imbalance: men (johns, Cable and Klute) controlling, punishing, and/or rescuing women
  14. 14. Klute and Cable as foils  parallels between the two male characters  Klute: threat to her independence; male private protection of women  Cable: threat to her life; male public violence against women  different intentions but same methods  the more involved Bree gets with Klute, the more Cable threatens to kill her  Klute usually appears right after Cable  Klute and Cable both pursue or follow Bree  two sides of Bree: good and bad, destructive and protective
  15. 15. cinematography  Gordon Willis, DP aka “Prince of Darkness”  also shot The Godfather (1 and 2), All the President’s Men, Annie Hall, Manhattan, and lots more Woody Allen  framing: using bars, window frames, door frames, and lines to unite or isolate characters  chiaroscuro: extremes of light and dark for symbolism and atmosphere  camera angle and position: low-angle and vertical shots emphasize instability, extreme power differences
  16. 16. visual style in Klute  film noir lighting: dark, nighttime, moody  women as commodities: models, hookers  emphasizes the power of Cable, the rich businessman, to manipulate  power imbalances: men (clients, Cable and Klute) controlling, punishing, and/or rescuing women
  17. 17. film noir lighting in Klute
  18. 18. framing: light and dark
  19. 19. framing: moody reflection
  20. 20. women as commodities
  21. 21. power of Cable
  22. 22. power imbalances: positioning, angle
  23. 23. power imbalances: verticality
  24. 24. power imbalances: tunnel-like hall
  25. 25. discussion questions  Klute is about fear and power. How does the movie express those emotions in the story?  How does it express fear and power through the visual style?  Visual style also includes color palettes. Compare the different kinds of color used in the two neo-noirs Klute and Chinatown. Why do you think the filmmakers chose those different color palettes?