By Janice Loreck
Violent girls in cinema pose an exhilarating problem to spectators, overturning principles of 'typical' female subjectivity. This ebook explores the illustration of homicidal ladies in modern artwork and autonomous cinema. studying narrative, sort and spectatorship, Loreck investigates the ability of artwork cinema to depict transgressive femininity.
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Additional resources for Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema
By characterising femininity as mysterious and possibly even evil, Antichrist allows its female protagonist to evade the Man’s – and the spectator’s – subjectifying desire to account for her illness. Critiquing the spectator by invoking an extremely misogynistic (not to mention archaic) rationale for female violence is undoubtedly a problematic manoeuvre that contributed to the audience’s outrage after the film’s premiere at Cannes. Nevertheless, this is precisely the strategy that Antichrist adopts.
Films such as Cat People and Captive Wild Woman – as well as more recent science-fiction films like Splice and the Species franchise – all share a story in which a female monster is placed in the care of a doctor or scientist (who is usually, but not always, male). The scientist typically has two responsibilities that are in direct conflict with one another. Firstly, his own desire for knowledge compels him to study the female curiosity. Usually, the woman possesses physical attributes that make her a tantalising object of enquiry.
However, the ambiguity concerning von Trier’s motivation does not mean that the violence in the film has no meaning; indeed, critics have proposed numerous theories about the gruesome spectacle in Antichrist. For example, Bodil Marie Stavning Thomsen argues that the spectacle of injury is reminiscent of the tortures described in the Horror, Hysteria and Female Malaise 33 Malleus Maleficarum (1486), Heinrich Kramer’s medieval treatise on how to detect and punish witchcraft (2009: 3–4). Asbjørn Grønstad argues that the scenes of violence compel the spectator ‘to look away’ and are therefore profoundly anti-voyeuristic (2011: 194).
Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema by Janice Loreck