Author Topic: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both  (Read 5818 times)

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Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #7 on: November 22, 2008, 10:23:40 PM »
I think it's immaterial to place one film against another and say, 'that film doesn't portray women favorably' or 'that one does.'

In the end you really do have to look at Russell's entire body of work and look for the themes and obsessions which tie his films together. Artists rarely work in fragmentation.

True, but artists change over time. Russell is not the same director that he was at the beginning of his career, that he is now. And not all his portrayals of women in his films are favorable, nor are they always unfavorable. Thus what made some of his portrayals favorable, and what made some of his portrayals unfavorable?

Anyway thank you for your reponse to my post.







Offline regal26

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Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2008, 07:49:13 PM »
I think it's immaterial to place one film against another and say, 'that film doesn't portray women favorably' or 'that one does.'

In the end you really do have to look at Russell's entire body of work and look for the themes and obsessions which tie his films together. Artists rarely work in fragmentation.






Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2008, 01:58:59 PM »
No, you are making sense Iain. And I do appreciate all the comments, whether they agree with what I say or disagree. And it is good to look at the whole, but pieces make up the whole. And if you put the pieces on a timeline, instead of alphabetically as I have done, you can see whether Ken's attitude toward women has changed at any point in time, or has remained consistent or inconsistent. And here is the rest of the list.

With s=sexist or unfavorable and f=feminist or favorable and b=both.

Salome's Last Dance=s
Savage Messiah=b
Tommy=f
Valentino=s
Whore=f
Women in Love=f
Gothic=f
Music Lovers=b

Next time: "Kevin/Kevin"


A.G.

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Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #4 on: October 07, 2008, 07:53:30 PM »
I think it's more important to look at Ken Russell's work as a whole rather than put each
film into a either/or catagory.

While the majority of the films (excluding Isadora, Crimes of Passion, The Rainbow, and Whore) have a male protagonist, the relationships between men and women in Russell's films are certainly not one-dimensional.

The men in Russell's films (usually artists of some kind) are often self-obsessed, phsycially or mentally emasculated, driven by relentless energy, or just terminally melancholy. The men and women who surround them must often suffer as a result of their obsessions (such as Nina in the Music Lovers, Elizabeth Siddal in Dante's Inferno (even in death!), or Eric Fenby in Song of Summer).

But in my opinion the most interesting and complex female characters in all of Russell's work are Gudrun and Ursula in Women in Love, and Sophie Brzeska in Savage Messiah. They don't fall into any easy catagory (victim, idealized beauty, femme fatale, etc.) They engage with their male counterparts on a direct and equal footing (although this invariably leads to the destruction of the relationships).

As far as 'Mahler' is concerned, the ending is problematic. But it's important to remember that Alma Mahler (besides marrying a few other writers and artists, most notably Walter Gropius), was responsible for changing much of her written correpsondence including Mahler's own letters which often omitted acquaintances, augmented her own involvement in the writing of Mahler's works, and changed any event that would cast her in a negative light.

I don't know if these revisions had been discovered when Russell made the film. But I don't think it would have changed his depiction of her. After all, I don't think a dream sequence where Alma dances on Mahler's coffin or performs a strip tease on a grammaphone in front his portrait would be considered exactly complementary!

Offline Iain Fisher

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    • Iain Fisher
Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2008, 11:54:42 PM »
I agree generally.  On Mahler it is a film I love but I would give two criticisms:

- it is too long.  There should be 20-30 min cut.  Having said that there is no bit I want to miss

- and related to your topic, the treatment of Alma, Mahler's wife.  She is dominated by Mahler and her own creative attempts are ridiculed. So much so that she literally buries her creativity (the scores of her music which she buries).  This is a great dramatic theme for a film.

But the theme is compromised at the end of the film when all is reconciled as Mahler reveals everything he wrote was to show his love for her.  It is a nice happy ending, but it does reinforce Mahler's dominance of his wife- her own thoughts and opinions are lost and her existence is defined as Mahler's reaction to her.  The films seems to suggest she should be content with this.  It would be better, I think, to show her happy acceptance of this, but also recognise her sadness at her sacrifice.

Am I making sense or have I watched Mindbender too much?

Iain

Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Re: Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #2 on: October 04, 2008, 06:46:54 PM »
Here are some more of my reflections on how women are portrayed in Ken's films.

As before, "Feminist" (F) equals favorablely, "Sexist" (S) equals unfavorabley, and "Both" (B) equals boith favorablely and unfavorablely.

And for those of his films that I have not seen, I have based my reflections on the reviews of his films. Reviews that I had read.

Isadora = F
Lair of the White Worm = B
Lisztomania = S
Mahler = S
Prison of Honor = F
The Rainbow = F

To be continued . . .

Offline BoyScoutKevin

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Ken: Feminist, Sexist, or Both
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2008, 01:32:57 AM »
While there are any number of ways to define the terms "feminist" and "sexist," as I am interested in how women are depicted in Ken's films, here "feminist" would be defined as "women depicted in a favorable light," while "sexist" would be defined as "women depicted in an unfavorable light," and "both" would be "both favorable and unfavorable."

I must also admit, some of these films I have not seen, but base my opinions on what numerous other people have said about them.

Altered States = Feminist
The Boyfriend = Feminist
Crimes of Passion = Feminist
The Devils = Both
French Dressing = Sexist

To be continued . . .