Blue is the Warmest Color -- A Discussion


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I made this PowerPoint to accompany a screening of Blue is the Warmest Color -- a coming of age, coming out story between two young women. It is a love story that captures what happens when we fall in, and ultimately out, of love.

Since winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes, the film has taken the global spotlight. The primary buzz about the film, besides the love story between Adele and Emma, are its sex scenes. Are the scenes too graphic? Not authentic enough for lesbian audiences? Is this dialogue around the sexual content even necessary?

This presentation delves into feminist/queer film theory. I primarily focus on the male gaze, the notion that heterosexual men control the bulk of roles in film making and therefore the power (a term first coined by Laura Mulvey in 1975), and what this means for Blue is the Warmest Color.

The purpose of this PowerPoint is not to review the film, give it a thumbs up or thumbs down, but to start a discussion about it. In film making, there are many people who contribute to the film's narrative. Obviously the director and actors create the image on screen. But as audience members, we have a responsibility to analyze what is in front of us and respond when it is not accurately representing who we are.

Do not take this presentation at face value -- its overall purpose is to start a conversation that I can only help guide, but not control.

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Blue is the Warmest Color -- A Discussion

  1. 1. Blue is the Warmest Color A discussion
  2. 2. The film  Graphic Novel origins  Written by an actual lesbian, woah.  What was the film about?  Story of growing up, falling in/out of love  Also, that gay stuff!  Actresses  Adele – Adele Exarchopoulos  Emma – Lea Seydoux  Director – Abdellatif Kechiche  Cannes/accolades  Palme d’Or at Cannes 2013
  3. 3. What’s the male gaze?  Women are typically the objects in films because heterosexual men, who make the bulk of films, have power (phrase coined by Laura Mulvey, 1975)  This affects the shots of the film, content, etc. Everything.  “The camera here can be understood as an extension of the male eye”  “Looking – which might be considered a relatively neutral activity – actually carries with it relations of power, access, and control”  What are some of examples of this in other media you watch? Quotes from Suzanna Waters, Visual Pressures
  4. 4. Let’s talk about THAT scene (aka, The Sex)
  5. 5. Why is everyone talking about The Sex?  NC-17 Rating  No better way to promote something than by banning it  Taboo/other-ness sex  Artist disputes – is the director a jerk?  The search for authenticity  Hearing a lot of terms like “real lesbians”  Why the hell are we still talking about this? NYTimes article (written by a man, FYI)
  6. 6. It comes back to the male gaze  “Not only do men as a gender have the institutional power to control the actual production of culture and cultural images, but they also have the ideological power to control the form and content of the images themselves”  A film about a queer relationship that is made by people who are not queer – they’re going to get things wrong  Lesbians, the final frontier!  And whether purposefully or not, this exerts power over a group that is already marginalized Quotes from Suzanna Waters, Visual Pressures
  7. 7. Queer/LGBT film  What do “we” want in a film?  Just who are we? Queer, lesbians, people of color, really good dancers -- just a few examples  How would we describe “our” audience?  Why is this important?
  8. 8. What’s next for queer film?  Is this our Brokeback Mountain moment?  “Everyone called it 'The Gay Cowboy Movie.' Until they saw it. In the end, Ang Lee's 2005 love story wasn't gay or straight, just human.” EWeekly  Rise of online video/streaming/distribution  Netflix/Youtube/Indie Distributors  Technology makes film accessible
  9. 9. Fin Questions? Comments?