Desire and Death in Three Films by Max Ophuls

lecture by Laura Mulvey
Thursday, April 2, 2009 - 6:30pm

Taking three films that Ophuls made at very different points in his career (Liebelei, 1933; Letter From an Unknown Woman, 1948; Madame de ..., 1953) this talk will analyze Ophuls' adaptation of the original texts on which his films are based in order to discuss the thematic consistency that runs across them. Mulvey's analysis will give particular attention to questions of gender (including the relation between contrasting iconographies of masculinity) and Ophuls cinematic style.

Laura Mulvey is a celebrated scholar who has stimulated debate in academe and the art world for more than 30 years. After studying history at St. Hilda's, Oxford University, she came to prominence in the early 1970s as a film theorist, writing for periodicals such as Spare Rib and Seven Days. Much of her early critical work investigated questions of spectatorial identification and its relationship to the male gaze, and her writings, particularly the 1975 essay Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema, helped establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study.

Between 1974 and 1982 Mulvey co-wrote and co-directed with her husband, Peter Wollen, several films on feminist theory, semiotics, psychoanalysis and leftist politics. Ms. Mulvey’s profound influence on the way in which we look at art, film, gender and national perspectives, has been inspirational to many—as have her pioneering cross-disciplinary and multidisciplinary approaches.

Co-sponsored by Committee on Cinema & Media Studies, Center for Gender Studies