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Thread: Audrey Hepburn

  1. #1
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    I am a year 13 Media Studies student and I'm doing a project on Women In Film.



    I am doing the films of Audrey Hepburn and I'd love to recieve some primary evidence from a forum :)

    I am doing the films Breakfast At Tiffany's and Funnyface, though I may do some others.



    Any posted replies may be used in my project.



    So, my question is:



    Do you think that Audrey Hepburn always plays characters that portray her in the male gaze?



    (For anyone that doesn't know the male gaze theory, it's basically that women are in the film only for a man's appreciation of her looks and beauty)



    Any help would be appreiated, thankyou

    :)

  2. #2
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    For a different view of Audrey, have a look at Wait Until Dark or Robin and Marian.



    You'll certainly need to have a look at some of her other films to get a better feel for what she was capable as an actor. I'd recommend Roman Holiday and My Fair Lady, too.



    Nick

  3. #3
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    But, in terms of the films I am doing, Breakfast At Tiffany's and Funny Face, I ask:



    ''Do you think Audrey Hepburn is subject to the male gaze?''

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmalouise
    But, in terms of the films I am doing, Breakfast At Tiffany's and Funny Face, I ask:



    ''Do you think Audrey Hepburn is subject to the male gaze?''
    That's a bit different to the original question.



    Quote Originally Posted by emmalouise
    "So, my question is:



    Do you think that Audrey Hepburn always plays characters that portray her in the male gaze?"
    Whereas;



    "Regarding those two films, do you think that Audrey Hepburn played characters that portrayed her in the male gaze?" would have given a request that was pertaining only to those two films, of course. I also used past tense as she's dead now.



    As to the answer, yes. Film is a commercial and primeval beast and the writers and producers have to tick the boxes to obtain a final result of some positive sort, for example, horror films that actually scare and not break down the audience in fits of laughter or romantic films where the audience feel an empathy with the situation that the couple on film may be involved in, so that the audience will part with their monies or the writers and producers would probably have never worked again.



    Beauty has always been something that sells and as Audrey Hepburn was seen as one of the 'women of beauty' of that time, then of course she would have been used in these films.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by emmalouise

    So, my question is:



    Do you think that Audrey Hepburn always plays characters that portray her in the male gaze?
    And my question is, Is that question worth asking? It seems so very 1980s, that sort of thing, when the BFI and other august bodies were filled with people desperate to drain every last inch of enjoyment and entertainment out of movies.

  6. #6
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    Adrian, I didn't find your contribution particularly useful, infact it bordered on insulting.

    There was no need to question my A-Level Coursework, it's something I have to do.



    If you didn't like my idea, there was no need to be patronizing about it.

  7. #7
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    Lighten up, emmalouise. You asked for a response and should be glad someone bothered to reply. If you don't like it - well, a dignified silence works best.

  8. #8
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    Dear Emmalouise . . . I'm truly sorry if you felt my response patronising and insulting; it wasn't meant to be so, because I genuinely feel that that sort of question, couched in those sorts of semantics, is simply wrong to be asking students of your age. I was writing professionally about movies through the 80s and while that kind of approach was not dominant, it was a force to be reckoned with. The key text here was/is perhaps Richard Dyer's BFI book Stars - I met Dyer a few times, liked him, yet I thought his approach so narrow-focussed, so specific, so based on a gay politic, that I felt it was quite dangerous in that it might become an orthodoxy. Now, you may never have heard of Dyer or read his book, yet his critical approach seems to have informed your particular course and influenced your particular tutor. I happen to have known Audrey Hepburn slightly - as well as others of her generation - and I think they deserve better, for their achievements in an admittedly/avowedly male-dominated industry are greater than the level set by your A-level course. It is true that Audrey was sometimes cast against somewhat older romantic male leads - Peck, Bogart, Lancaster, Fonda, Astaire, Rex Harrison for instance - but she was also sometimes cast with near contemporaries and romantic equals like Albert Finney - so she was not cut and dried. She is in fact far more complicated than it seems your course will allow. The best or more fruitful approach would be to trash this 'male gaze' rubbish and study her as an icon of her age, compare her with Elizabeth Taylor or Monroe, analyse the European influence at Paramount, where she worked under contract, and how she and her agent Kurt Frings shaped her career when the studio system went bust.

  9. #9
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    There was something unique about Audrey Hepburn.



    Although, from all accounts: a strong-willed and deeply conservative woman in person; with lasting emotional issues due to the troubled relationship with her father; on screen she projected a very different quality. Especially when she was young, she embodied an archetypal and quintessential "child-woman"; the kind men wanted to protect. Many men who grew up in the 50's and 60's fell under that spell and admired her in a very different way from other female stars. As she grew older that quality changed into something serene, self-contained and rather lovely in a different way; reflecting, I like to think, her selfless work with UNICEF. It's a pity she acted so little on screen in those years but her performance (her last?) as an angel in ALWAYS is still one of her best.



    So – maybe I also feel she's not the best subject to be shoe-horned into some reductionist gender-based categorization. It denies and dulls the transcendent quality of her work, its very magical properties - the properties of the films themselves. Why not pick on some more archetypal and resilient actress - Jane Fonda perhaps? Some good essay-writing meat to be found in films like BARBARELLA and KLUTE . . .

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