Mrs Scales has retired

To the readers of this site, Mrs Scales retired in 2017. She is enjoying her retirement by travelling around the world, gardening and playing (too much) Wii frisbee golf.

This site will remain online for many more years but no additional content will be added in the foreseeable future.

Summary of Daniel Chandler’s notes on the Gaze

Schroeder: “film has been called an instrument of the make gaze producing representations of women the good life and sexual fantasy from the make point of view.”


Freud: Scopophilia – the pleasure in looking at bodies as erotic objects – darkness of cinema – voyeuristic, objectification and narcissistic identification with ideal ego on screen.


Conventional narrative films – male protagonist, male spectator. Traditionally men are active, women passive objects of desire. Women rarely desire in their own right.


Mulvey ; voyeuristic – sadistic, punishment, forgiveness.

Fetishistic: turning the figure in to an object to become satisfying – leads to an overvaluation of the female star and women’s image.


De Lauretis: female spectator involved in double identification


Since 1980s increasing sexualisation of male bodies (Coke break, levis etc)


Feminist Film Theory: Freeland


Men drive the narrative forward.

Barbara Creed: women in horror films are often the victims rather than monsters.


Film viewer not given credit for ability to construct a critical reading.


Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema; Laura Mulvey


Patriarchal soc has structure film form unconsciously.

Castration of women –lack of phallus causes women to be a threat, she gains meaning by having a child.

Freud: Scopophilia begins in curiosity about our own bodies and genitalia and becomes transferred to others; in extremes can be fixated into perversion e.g. stalking, mimicry…


How does cinema encourage this?

  • Hermetically sealed world
  • Sense of separation and plays on voyeuristic fantasy
  • Isolates spectators from one another
  • Illusion of looking in on private world
  • Repression of exhibition and transference on to performer


Use of mirrors – as a child very significant stage of development of the ego and self image when first recognise self in mirror. Mirror self becomes idealised. Seeing ourselves as others see us – difference between image and self-image; on screen a process of likeness and difference; the glamorous impersonating the ordinary. [Phantom of the opera]

Women as image- she holds the look, plays to and signifies male desire.

The presence of women halts the narrative flow; moments of erotic contemplation.

She is the one who inspires: fear, love, desire, concern – makes him act the way he does, otherwise she is unimportant.


Show girl device – male spectator and character united in looking.


Fragmentation – gives quality of a cut out; an icon rather than verisimilitude.

Men however are uncomfortable gazing at their exhibitionist like so he has to be the controller, the power behind the fantasy.


Men are figures in a landscape, women are seen in small settings; he needs to look as if he is in a real space then the male audience can project his desire for power onto the character; she is confined, controlled – look at women in sit coms or in westerns where they are usually in a building.


She is isolated, on display, glamorous; as the film progresses she falls in love with the male and becomes his property; she is conquered, possessed and indirectly the spectator can possess her too. [Only angels have wings]


She poses a problem for men; her lack of a penis implies threat of castration – unpleasure.

2 avenues: preoccupation with demystifying her; saving, punishing, forgiving (see film noir)

Or: building up the beauty so it becomes satisfying in its own right. (Julia Roberts’ smile / Dietrich’s face / other stars’ legs)


Hitchcock– Rear Window. Jeffries in this film watches his neighbours thru binoculars his excuse is he thinks he may have seen a crime. He has a ‘correct role’ as a photographer but here subverts his skills leading to them being compromised and he and the audience are absorbed into a voyeuristic situation, parodying our own in the cinema. When the girlfriend who up to now has been a paragon of style, crosses to the other apartment he rediscovers his interest in her as guilty intruder and now can save her.

Sternberg – has little mediation of the look through males’ eyes; often his women are on their own, at the mirror, in the shower and we are simply the voyeur – no excuses.


The conventions of narrative film always aim to eliminate the intrusive presence of the camera and prevent a distancing of the audience, hence the use of seamless editing. [What about Blair witch project and more modern films in which the camera is noticeable – what effect does it produce? Is it counterproductive?]