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The Male Gaze

            According to Mulvey: "In a world of sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on the female figure which is styled accordingly". Do you agree? Discuss in relation to films from the unit with attention to mise en scene, editing and narrative.
             Barbarella (1968).
             Roger Vadim's Barbarella (1968) was made during the evolution of the feminist movement. One could possibly suggest that this was a reaction from patriarchy to the women's liberation movement; if they weren't going to be victims, then they would have to be objects. This Hollywood science fiction narrative sends out many stir ups on the male gaze, which I will elaborate later. Barbarella, played by the sex symbol of the 1960's Jane Fonda (Eric, 2000), represents the human race was set on a mission to find Durand-Durand. Durand-Durand, played by Milo O"Shea, is a missing scientist who holds a thread to planet earth. Set in the year 40,000AD, Barbarella encounters men during her mission and even goes about sexually pleasing them by engaging in sexual-like activities with them in order to get her closer to Durand-Durand.
             In the opening credits, we see Barbarella teasingly undresses herself slowly out of her space suit in her spacecraft. This action represents a striptease like performance for the audience hence easily identifying her as a sexually attractive protagonist for the film. Many close ups of her body parts were use in this scene. This is a very good example of scopophilia, also known as voyeurism. Scopophilia literally means the desire to see (Hayward, 2002). According to Sigmund Freud, a well-known psychologist during the later half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century, this term refers to the infant's libidinal drive to pleasurable viewing (Hayward, 2002).
             According to film theorists, Richard Allen, the male gaze occurs through a form of identification in the male spectator, through identification with the gaze of the male star, looks upon the spectacle of the female body (Allen, 2001).

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