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The Gazes of an African Soul: The “Gaze” as seen in Black Girl

The “Gaze” exists in several forms. The most popular kind is the gender based gaze, such as how men in film look upon women as though they are material. However, this particular example does not involve gender. What these two gazes represent are debatable in interpretation.

This is the last scene in the film “Black Girl.” The protagonist, a black girl from Africa, comes to France with a seemingly tender family to live a life of liberty. However, having been oppressed and abused by the family, the girl commits suicide. The father, though just as responsible for her pain, was humble enough to take her belongings back to her family. A small boy, whom happens to be the younger brother of the late black girl, takes the mask that was returned to him. The father uncomfortably leaves with increasing pace as the masked figure follows him all the way back to the airport entrance.

Two gazes exist, each bearing a different meaning.

1) The Mask

This African mask followed the father everywhere he went, never letting go of his sight. The mask seems to represent some sort of spirit. One kind of spirit it could be is one of judgement. Whether it is metaphoric for “our” God or another, this mask has a very omnipotent presence. The fear projected by the father could be his indirect fear of judgement itself, and how he is developing a guilt for his role in the protagonist’s suicide.

However, it can also be debated that the mask represents the spirit of Africa. A more literal take of the gaze, the father feared the mask as any stranger to a culture would. Selfish and materialistic, he doesn’t understand the life of a developing country. Neither does he want to. Its vast difference in lifestyle alienates him from absorbing the culture.

2) The Boy

The mask is slowly lowered, revealing a boy. Anyone can see his gaze reflects the pain of his late sister. The boy is looking at two particular people. In the film, it is made apparent that he is constantly watching the father. However, the cinematography of the shot implies a sort of indirect fourth wall break, as the boy appears to be looking at the audience. Rather than a spirit, the boy presents a colonial gaze. The pain seen in his gaze is one that implies that the father will never fully understand the burden he brought to the protagonist. The father, being of the outside world, is actually the developed world. The boy’s gaze upon the audience says how we, a developed society, don’t take into consideration the sufferings of other less fortunate countries. History has shown that major powers have abused the 3rd worlds without second thoughts, such as whether or not the people would be hurt in the process. The colonial gaze reminds the audience literally of the pain we don’t understand, just as the father, self-absorbed as he is, doesn’t understand the plight of the protagonist’s family.

Tom’s View: Psycho (1968)

Nothing is funnier than scottish midgets singing. Nothing…

"One things for sure: We don't represent those damn Brits!"

Oh, my apologies. I was watching The Wizard of Oz recently. Those were some good times…and some very frightful times…………

On a very related note, who likes insane serial killers? Introducing, Psycho! This is certainly not the first time it’s been introduced. It’s rather notorious for being directly responsible for the revolution of horror and thriller films and indirectly responsible for the rise of the slasher-killer sub-genre.

I’m sure you know the story. A girl on the run finds the Bates motel, meets a awkward yet adoring Norman Bates, and gets killed by whom appears to be Norman’s mother. A lot of people got pissed because the girl was considered the star of the film. What happened was  Mr.Hitchcock performed a rather clever, yet  tongue-in-cheek prank by having this star die less than half way through halfway through the film. Well played, Albert. Way to break the trend.

The ORIGINAL troll

 

So her sister and her lover decide to find out what the hell happened. And the mystery ensues.

It’s not easy to mention the famous shower scene without hitting points that have been mentioned before. The scary theme music, the quick and rapid shot changes, the clever use of chocolate syrup, blah blah blah… but one thing that was probably mentioned before that I really enjoy is the significance of the last shot.

That slow zoom out from her eye, revealing that small drop of water that we as the audience debate to be either from the shower or from her tears. Either way, this represents something. This particular woman isn’t your typical female stereotype. She was strong. Bold and smart, yet in the end, she ended up no better than those bimbos in most horror flicks who decide to run into the corner of the room rather than run for the door where the gun also happens to be…goddamn, those characters piss me off, but this one seemed like she had a chance. In the end, the stereotype that women are defenseless and doomed is enforced.

The film is, of course, all about Norman. There is a lot that can be said about him and his near-oedipal relationship with his “mother,” whom though only heard off screen gives a very cold-hearted and cruel impression. The best way to describe him and his mother is through one shot: this one. From the scene in Norman’s office room.

Many would agree that Norman is like the birds on his wall. Taken literally, he is as he describes birds. They prey on the harmless. They eat a lot. Norman not only “does” that but also eats his sandwich like a bird in this scene too. Very small bites.

However, we all know that technically, the murderer is the mother. She has such a tight grip on Norman’s Bates that he is practically her servant, which is funny because *spoiler* she’s kinda dead. The guy’s a loon and she is basically a split personality of Norman. Even then, considering the situation, Norman is the real victim of the whole movie. He has no control over this change. If he didn’t have his mom in his head, he would be a perfectly good oddball. However, he cannot fight his mother. Like the birds over his head, she is always watching him. Always, and ready to attack anyone who gets close to him.

No doubt the weakest scene in the film is the second to last one, where some therapist dude basically explains that whole thing I just told you in a mere minute or two. Gee, it seems that Norman was the killer, but wasn’t. It seems that it was his mother since Norman’s mind recreated her psychological profile that dominated most of Norman’s conscious. Could that be? Nah, I’m dumb. I need some random ass dude I don’t care about to tell me. If people aren’t going to get it, let them be lost, because that is actually more fun than knowing what happened. The theories they make could possibly be more interesting…but oh well, we know what it is now. Cue the credits.

Revolutionary in its genre. An easy 4/4 stars.

 

Scene Analysis: Citizen Kane: How to run a Newspaper

(This is a rather straight to the point post. Those looking for humor will be disappointed. We cannot give refunds).

Long shot (0:00-2:24) The shot begins with the newspaper boss taking up most of the right side of the frame, holding a newspaper that covers most of the rest. He throws it down violently, revealing a man in a chair. Being blasted for his rather controversial articles in the paper, the man spins around in the chair to face the Boss, revealing himself to be Charles Foster Kane, smiling and drinking a cup of what appears to be tea. The boss is closest to the frame, and the angle of the shot shows that he’s supposed to have more power over Kane since he appears higher over him.

Most of the shot is in sharp focus, with several men clearly seen working in the background.

Kane places down the cup and picks up the newspaper that the boss slammed on the table. Simultaneously with his action of picking it up the paper, his friend rushes into the room, followed by a slower paced fellow in a suit.

The friend comes next to Kane, and the man in the suit comes in front of them. The Boss is still closest to the frame. The Suited man bends over on the desk, with the camera panning slightly down. It follows him as he pulls away from the desk and rejoins Kane and his friend.

Kane tosses the paper while placing a pipe in his mouth, and his friend reads off from a message he received for Kane. As he responds to the message, he takes a match he lit and readies his pipe. He laughs softly as he looks into his displeased boss. The suited man and friend leave. Kane smokes his pipe as his boss continues to retaliate. The Boss walks off to the right, with the camera following him.

As the boss sits down, so does the camera. Kane discards the match. The camera from here on slowly crawls into their conversation with each of the two at equal level. As Kane continues to confront his boss, he gains more of the frame. As he discusses his the “side” of him that is “the publisher of The Inquirer,” the camera zooms in on his face, with his boss holding a small amount of the right frame.

His boss stands up, Kane following along closely along with the camera. The Boss moves back from the frame to the back of the room grabbing his coat and his hat. Kane follows him, with the camera. He then assists him in putting on his coat.

The men in the background happen to be looking at the two as they discuss. Kane and his Boss stand on opposite sides of the frame facing each other, indirectly divided by a coat hanger. His boss reminds Kane that his “empire” is costing him a million dollars a year.

Kane replies, “I did lose a million dollars last year and I expect to lose a million dollars this year, I expect to lose a million dollars next year! You know Mr. Thatcher at the rate of a million dollars a year…”

New shot, closing up on Kane. “…I’ll have to close this place in…sixty years.”

Kane has taken control of the situation, progressively earning more of the frame which, in this scene, seems to represent a “battlefield.” Needless to say, Kane won the battle.

To those in Herzog’s Class

First off, hi there. Thank you for visiting. You are too kind.

Second, if you want to comment on posts that relate to class, use the CATEGORIES sidebar to select “For Class.”

This will filter out the posts so just class-related ones show.

Feel free to see the other ones, though. I don’t get paid to not have them be read…wait, I don’t get paid at all. Where’s my money?!