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The gaze - Essay Example

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The gaze Marilyn Monroe Source http://www.doctormacro.com/movie%20star%20pages/Monroe,%20Marilyn-NRFPT.htm Many film studios in the golden age of Hollywood made very extensive use of sexuality in their marketing and in the mise-en-scene of their films. One theory which helps to illuminate how exactly this was achieved, despite some very draconian rules and regulations regarding nudity and suggestible postures, costumes and symbols, is that of Laura Mulvey…
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The gaze
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The gaze

Download file to see previous pages... There was little in the way of direct nudity in most images of stars, but photographers used great skill in appealing to the unconscious in their pictures. They found ways to hint at emotional dimensions below the surface, thereby triggering the desired reactions in the audience in a subtle way. The image above of the iconic film star Marilyn Monroe makes use of a very striking color contrast to emphasize the partially naked body in the center of the frame. The composition is fairly symmetrical apart from the back of the wicker chair which paradoxically juts out to the right of the central figure. This suggests that the subject sits uncomfortably in a world that is not quite suited to her needs: she is something of a rebel, but at the same time, this attitude makes her vulnerable, because her seated position is not quite secure. A low horizon line at the bottom separates the bright blue floor from the almost black background. The stiff netting material of the dress presents an angular and yet see-through shield around the subject’s lower body: it is very structural in form, as if to protect her, and yet the light shining through reveals a great deal of the bare skin beneath. This is no doubt a deliberate strategy used by the photographer to tease the eye with an illusion of modesty. The feature of the photograph that I find most interesting is the combination of both mature and immature connotations of female sexuality which exist together in one and the same human subject. The very red lipstick draws attention to the subject’s sensual mouth, and the red fingernails accentuate this still further. Likewise the red toenails hint at deliberate efforts on the part of the subject to make herself sexually attractive to men. On the other hand, the posture bending forwards on the chair serves to hide the upper body, notably the breasts, and the naked feet pointing clumsily inwards suggest a childish awkwardness in front of the camera. The pose is modest, and yet revealing at the same time. This tension is reflected also in the silhouette that the human figure forms. Sitting in the middle of the picture, Marilyn Monroe appears to be slightly off-balance, as the eye is drawn by the outline of the dress from upper left to lower right. This too, makes the figure look insecure and in need of support. The male gaze finds therefore cause to feel both lustful and protective about the figure in the image, and this in nutshell describes the cultural value of the Marilyn Monroe “brand” in Hollywood cinema terms. The “look” which she offers the viewer is disarming and innocent, but there are many subconscious clues of a mature sexuality beneath the surface. There are parallels between this image and classical paintings, in which the interplay of light and shade serves to highlight the human flesh tones. This modern photograph is, however, more overtly sexual than classical paintings. A deliberate untidiness in the hairstyle and the direct, full-face angle of the picture suggest a kind of artful frankness. The model is pretending to be caught off-guard in a moment of relaxation, possibly after dancing, but in fact the composition looks very much as if it has been carefully staged to give this impression. A very important part of the picture’s impact is due to the complete lack of background ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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