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Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Feminist Icon: Laura Mulvey

by Susuana Antubam

Yesterday, in Royal Holloway’s prestigious Founders Building, I had pleasure of listening to a lecture given by the great feminist film theorist Laura Mulvey. Having overheard that she hadn’t visited Royal Holloway in over ten years, I became even more overwhelmed by her presence and the great number of admirable academics in the room sharing this experience. I'm  one of the many film/media students that have quoted her master piece of an essay Visual Pleasure in Narrative cinema (1975) where she writes about the dominating male gaze and objectification of women in classical narrative cinema.

 In her hour-long lecture, which was titled: Love and Death in three films by Max Ophuls: Liebelei (Germany 1932), Letter from an Unknown Woman (US 1948) and Madame de… (France 1953), I was able to witness her fascinating outlook on gender and sexual politics in film. She explored questions of masculinity, patriarchal disruption and the reoccurring presence of the love triangle between the aristocratic husband, wife and womaniser in Ophuls’ films. I was lucky enough to able talk to her after the event for a quite a while. We discussed my dissertation as it revolves around the female representation on film, this was literally a mind-blowing experience since I have already planned to include some of her work. Not that I don’t equally adore and respect my awesome feminist dissertation tutor who is also a friend of Mulvey’s haha. 

We also spoke about the Feminism Society and must-see feminist films and feminist activism. One of the most interesting things she talked about is how she got into feminist film criticism, saying that in the 60s she very much enjoyed cinema, however after being involved in the feminist scene she then began to look at cinema with a critical eye which partly spoilt the please she gained from it. However she then stated that she found a new please feminist film criticism.

This journey into feminist film criticism is one I recognise. I also found that we shared common ground when it came to software, during the lecture when the computer wasn’t being agreeable, she stated that she wasn’t incompetent; she was just a Mac person. 

It was a lovely event and I’d like to thank the organisers for such a great evening and hope that it wont be another ten or so years before Laura Mulvey returns to Royal Holloway.

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