Assignment 2

“The Gaze”

“She Knows His Type” (The Lady Eve, mirror scene)

The male gaze is an important topic we have learned in our media class. This idea of the male gaze was first published in a book by Laura Mulvey’s , the books title was “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.”  In this book she used ‘psychological theory’ while she discusses how women are important figures in motion pictures as well as how they are portrayed in our cinema. She went into how the “gaze” are looked at from the male perspective and how these females are only used to basically be admired and looked at as objects by the men ( this was referred to as “to-be-looked-at-ness). The gaze is also more than just how both of the characters see each other it also involves ‘camera gazes’ and how we gaze as the spectators. Men are always looked at as the more dominating and important character but I want to show that even women can take on this domineering role. This is why I chose to look at  the mirror scene in The Lady Eve. The scene shows that men can also be looked at from the woman prespective and how the role of this male gaze is reversed. So my question here would be can a male also be the target of this reverse and can a woman show the man as just an object that’s there for her and the audience to just admire? This would be referred to as a “female gaze.”

The role of the main character Jean is played by Barbara Stanwyck who is looking at a mirror at the beginning of the shot which is centered right in the middle. The camera then switches to a close up shot of the mirror she is holding as she is looking back at a gentlemen sitting at the table. Most of this scene is spent looking at the character of Charles, while Jean is narrating what is happening in a slightly comical tone. The entire scene Jean is describing everything Charles is doing with a little bit of an  exaggeration. She is mentioning what kind of guy he is and what kind of woman he wants as she can see all the women are pining for him. Charles is just looked at as an attractive male figure who women want attention from.

The background music is very soft and slow as the shot has a deep focus which is where the objects and people are all seen in a wide range . The shot shows Charles in the center as his is the important figure and what we are focused on. There is not a lot of camera movement is is most of the time very still and focused on Charles. As Jean narrates we are showed what her idea and intake is on how a guy thinks and how he acts, she gives us an overview on how he views these women and she also narrates what the women are thinking and how that are acting around him. All the women are tying to get the attention of Charles but he does not pay much attention to it all. The mirror that we are looking at is placed right in front of Jeans face which implies that the camera is right in the back of her head as it is zoomed in on the mirror so we can see the reverse shot. The lighting of the camera is pretty bright and we can see all the detailes in the shot.

As this scene comes to an end Charles is according to Jean is not liking any girl he sees so he stand up and while he is leaving she trips him. As he gets up and fixes himself up Jean tells him in a slightly irritated voice that he should look where he is going. We see them both in a middle shot where they are both visible as is Jeans father. The background is blurred and all we are focused on is the three of them, this is more of a shallow focus scene, this means that the objects/people out of the scene are out of focused (blurred). As he apologize’s for breaking her heal she demands that he sees her to her room for another pair, he agrees without hesitation. As he introduces himself as Charles she says “everybody knows that” and how no one is talking about anything else (but him) which essentially shows how much of the center of conversation he is among women. She then drags him off as she mentions how funny it is meeting him like that.  But meeting him was her plan all along.

This scene had more of a focus on how a woman sees a man. We are showed her point of view on how she thinks he is but we can also see that she is definitely interested in him. Charles is a wealthy man who Jean has a fancy for because of that fact. We are able to get her perspective on how she believes he acts and what kind of woman he is interested in. So in conclusion a “female gaze” is just as much present in films as a “male gaze is.” All the techniques and camerawork put into this scene makes it evident that the fact of the “female gaze” is present.


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December 9, 2011. Uncategorized.

2 Responses to “Assignment 2”

  1.   Amy Herzog Says:

    Excellent scene for this assignment! You set up and structure your argument well. There are some persistent problems with proofreading and grammar here that hold you back a bit. I am very glad you mention that the primary reason Charles is appealing to most of these women is that he is wealthy, which does complicate our notions of desire and gender politics. One stereotype is reinforced (the gold digger) at the same time that another is upended (women here are active and in control). Thanks for a great semester.

  2.   Erickson Bryan Says:

    I love your observation of the male gaze and your use of psychology to analyze it. I agree with you when you stated the background is blurry when focus on Jean and father to show their importance. Good selection of scene. Good observation on the music too i havent really focused on that.

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