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Laura Mulvey

By | July 2013
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"Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" - Laura Mulvey

In her "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" Laura Mulvey utilizes psychoanalysis theory as a "political weapon" to demonstrate how the patriarchic subconscious of society shapes our film watching experience and cinema itself. According to Mulvey the cinematic text is organized along lines that are corresponding to the cultural subconscious with is essentially patriarchic. Mulvey argues that the popularity of Hollywood films is determined and reinforced by preexisting social patterns which have shaped the fascinated subject. Mulvey's analysis in "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" combines semiotic methodology of cinematic means of expression with psychoanalytic analysis of desire structures and the formation of subjectivity. The semiotic end of Mulvey's analysis enables the deciphering of how films produce the meanings they produce, while the psychoanalytic side of the article provides the link between the cinematic text and the viewer and explains his fascination through the way cinematic representations interact with his (culturally determined) subconscious.

Mulvey's main argument in "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" is that Hollywood narrative films use women in order to provide a pleasurable visual experience for men. The narrative film structures its gaze as masculine. The woman is always the object of the reifying gaze, not the bearer of it (this has something reminiscent of John Berger's "Ways of Seeing") 

The cinematic gaze is always produced a masculine both by means of the identification produced with the male hero and through the use of the camera. Mulvey identifies two manners in which Hollywood cinema produces pleasure, manners which arise from different mental mechanisms. The first involves the objectification of the image, and the second one the identification with it. Both mechanisms represent the mental desires of the male subject. The first form of pleasure relates to what...
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