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Complications of a Film Auteur

            Audiences stereotypically need to be able to identify with at least one (usually the main) character with in a film By identifying with one or more characters, the film experience becomes more personal and realistic, and therefore more enjoyable and or affective. In The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999), the director Anthony Minghella uses the intertwining of spectator and character gaze to force audiences to identify with two generically undesirable characters. This creates tension and discomfort, as well a desire to see these characters succeed due to the self-identification. Within the bathtub sequence, Minghella foregrounds the intertwined gaze of the characters and spectator through the style of shots in order to force the spectator to identify with both the voyeuristic Ripley, and the fetishized Dickie.
             The bathtub sequence from The Talented Mr. Ripley focuses on intertwining the characters gaze with that of the spectator. The scene is set within the bathrooms of Dickie's Italian villa. The sequence begins with two characters, Ripley and Dickie, discussing their lack of siblings while playing a game of chess. Dickie reclines in a bathtub smoking while Ripley sits just outside the tub drinking red wine. The mise-en-scene is romanticized, with the tub, wine, candlelight and sultry jazz in the background. Even before Ripley asks to get into the tub, the spectator is aware of the sexual tension through the mise-en-scene and style of the shot. As Ripley reveals his homoeroticism by asking to get into the bathtub, the chess game ends abruptly, and the tensions peaks with Dickie's tub exit past the watching Ripley. Dickie's abrupt "NO" followed by his tub exit further establishes Ripley's homoerotic voyeurism and reveals Dickie as the fetishized object. The sequence ends with Ripley continuing he objectification of Dickie through the means of a mirror, and being playfully swatted by a confused Dickie when his staring becomes apparent.

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