Analysis Project #2: Formal Analysis

December 9th, 2011

The Lady Eve

Mirror scene

“The Male/Female Gaze”

The male gaze is a theory by Laura Mulvey, that says that women are only objects “to-be-looked-at.” It shows that men have control of the camera, because these types of scenes are shown in their point of view. But in the film The Lady Eve, these ideas are challenged as the character Jean, gets the upper hand by being able to watch the man for once, with him not being able to do anything about it. However, the audience can notice that even though Jean is shown being the stronger power, other women are still shown as objects to be seen. In the end, Laura Mulvey is correct when she states that the gaze enforces male perspective, and it shows with this certain mirror scene.

In The Lady Eve, there is a mirror scene that shows a “female gaze,” instead of the male gaze, and that the man (Charlie) is the one being looked at, instead of a womanThis scene shows Jean looking into a mirror, with Charles behind her reading a book. Jean sees that almost every woman is looking at him, and she makes comments about the ones that stand. One shakes her hips while she passes by Charles’s table; the other drops her handkerchief on the floor; and another goes straight to his table and talks to him, trying to get his attention. However, Charles does not seem fazed at all by their actions. When he finally gets up and walks to leave, she trips him smugly, even blaming her broken heel on him, and he just goes along with it.

The most important clue that the audience is shown that this scene is indeed a female gaze is the use of Jean’s mirror, thus making the known title of the scene. The audience sees that Jean looks into the mirror uninterestingly, her eyes lighting up in amusement only when women do something ridiculus. Her comments towards the other women are sarcastic when they look at Charles, knowing what women are like when it comes to men. The lighting around Jean is bright, showing Jean as the eyes of the viewers. She is also the only person who is speaking during this scene, (besides the brief answer her father gave her when she asked a question) giving her power to create a mood for the audience. The romantic, yet funny music also helps create the mood of the scene, making certain parts funnier.

Then suddenly, we are put into the eyes of Jean looking at the sight behind her. I noticed that in the mirror, Charles looks small and unimportant, because it is a medium long-shot, making him look like the rest of people within the frame. The only difference is that he is in the middle reading a book, not socializing like the others around him. And after he talks to Jean, I see that he is a clumsy and nervous person, not the type of guy that is usually shown in other movies. This is different from the women in male gazes, who are made to seem as seductive and inviting, with them undressing or dancing while men watch them. In this scene, men are portrayed as quiet, as opposed to being sexual objects, to parallel the way women are portrayed as in other films.

However, even though the scene shows a female gaze, there are obvious hints of male influence, because women are still being focused on. One woman passing by Charlie shakes her hips as she walks, supposedly being seductive. Another drops her handkerchief close to him, yet she ends up picking it up herself. Then, the camera (mirror) follows another woman to the right who is slowly getting up to talk to him. She is wearing a dress that has no sleeves, creating a “sexy” look. But all that time, Charles is shown not paying attention to these women who are basically throwing themselves at him. Even though this is supposed to be looking at a man, Charles is only shown as a boring guy focused on his book, and focuses on the whole frame (with other women more interesting to look at).

So as I’ve stated, I agree with Laura Mulvey when she states that cinema mostly uses the male perspective. Even the female audience doesn’t mind, because we are used to seeing it in many movies. Even when a scene is supposed to be a “female gaze” scene, it turns to a male gaze instead, and focuses more on the women and what they are doing. The mirror scene minimizes the man’s presence and replaces it with women and other distractions. Filmmakers can’t seem to grasp the idea of there being a “female gaze,” as shown.

Analysis Project #1: Shot-by-shot breakdown of a scene in: M

October 17th, 2011

The first scene of M when children are playing, and a mother is taking laundry.

Shot 1: 1 minute 4 seconds

Camera: LS; extremely long take; shot from a high angle, then to a low angle.

Lighting: No light in the early shot, changes to a natural lighting setting. The different angled shadows suggest there is light coming from 2 sources.

Sound: A girl’s voice in the beginning with a black background, and only her voice is heard throughout the shot, until a woman tells her not to sing.

Depth of field: Shallow

At first, the shot has a black background, then light starts to come with the camera looking down at children in a square-like circle. There is a girl in the middle, whose voice was the one speaking, who looks like she is picking someone to be “it.” It focuses on the children for a while after finally moving to the side, showing 2 garbage cans and a window, then moving up to a balcony with laundry hung from strings. A woman comes into the frame and looks down at the children from the balcony. The woman then screams at them, but the camera does not move down. It stays in that background for a few more seconds, and we hear the girl’s voice again.

Straight cut to shot.

Shot 2: 46 seconds

Camera: Medium Long Shot, Long take, Shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting.

Sound: No music, only people’s voices.

Depth of field: Shallow, can only see the 2 women, and part of the walls.

It starts off with the woman who is carrying laundry going up the stairs. The camera stays put for a few seconds before following the woman up the stairs and in front of a door. The railings and the side of the stairs can be shown. It zooms in when another woman opens the door, but far enough to see their whole bodies. The audience can see a dining room setting from this shot, hinting that the woman who answered may be a mother. They talk about the children singing a song about the murderer around their neighborhood, and how as long as they can hear the children, they know they’re safe.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 3: 22 seconds

Camera: MS to LS, medium take, shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting

Sound: Only the women’s voices and the sound of the washboard.

Depth of field: Wide. Able to see the whole kitchen/dining room.

The shot starts off as a continuation of the previous shot, when the 2 women are talking. From this angle, the stairs are shown outside the door. The later woman turns around after talking and the earlier woman closes the door. The camera zooms out and follows the woman to the right as she sets down her laundry. It then follows her to the left as she goes to the washboard. Within the frame, there is the kitchen drawers, utensils, a chair, the washboard, thew stove with pots, the woman, and the window with decorations.

Straight cut to next shot.

Shot 4: 5 seconds

Camera: MS, short take, shot straight on.

Lighting: Natural lighting.

Sound: A clock is heard outside the frame towards the end of the shot.

Depth of field: The woman is shown with the washboard, but still able to see some of the background.

The woman is shown scrubbing white clothes on the washboard. She looks up after hearing the clock.

Straight cut.

Shot 5: 5 seconds

Camera: MS of clock

Lighting: Strong shadow of the clock, but other than that, normal lighting.

Sound: The clock

Depth of field: Able to see the clock, a portion of the cupboards, and some utensils hung up.

The clock rings as it is 12 in the afternoon. The strong shadow suggests importance in the time

Shot 6: 4 seconds

Camera: MS, short take, shot straight on

Lighting: Natural lighting

Sound: The sound of the clock and bells, hinting from outside.

Depth of field: Can see woman, the washboard, part of the window, cupboards with utensils.

The woman is still looking from her washing, stops, and dries off her hands.

Straight cut.

This first scene of the film composed of many long takes at first, then changes the pace into short takes. The long takes seemed to create an ominous mood, while the short takes created a sort of everyday-like mood, like it happens normally. The pace seemed to change when the later woman talks about how the children are safe as long as they are heard. The scene goes on as a normal day would, with children playing, the women doing laundry and preparing what seemed to be lunch. The clock shows that this happens probably everyday. Even on a normal day like this, a murder can happen. The children are just playing, thinking nothing can happen to them, even going along with the song.

In the beginning of the scene, the filmmaker chose to put the girl’s voice in the black background first in order to create a dark mood. It was ironic how the girl’s voice was cheerful, yet the background was black and she was singing about a murderer. The girl in the beginning also seemed to be the one who got murdered, Elsie. Only voices and background sounds were heard during this scene. It turned the scene more mysterious because the audience does know what to feel at what moment in the movie. I thought that was why I was surprised when the girl suddenly got murdered.