Let me start off by saying that I personally loved this movie. I love Jackie Kennedy and I felt that the movie was very good at artistically presenting her. I cried during the film and was impressed by a lot of things that I had not thought about.
This movie was about Jackie Kennedy (played by Natalie Portman) in the days during JFK’s death and burial. The focus is on her, more specifically, how she deals with the loss of her husband and shapes how he is remembered in history.
The most shocking thing about the movie for me was watching her shower after her husband was assassinated. It isn’t something that many people think about, but Jackie did have to wash all the blood off of herself and this scene depicts it well.
Another thing that Lorrain does well is the filming. The movie is shot in mostly extreme close-ups, which make the movie often uncomfortable to watch. Additionally, the lens used is different from most films. This creates a grainier picture could sometimes be disorienting asnd added to the uncomfortable nature of the film. Moreover, the film is shown in a non chronological way. This makes the movie more meaningful because events are portrayed as they are significant. The focus point of the movie is an interview between Jackie and a reporter and events are shown as flashbacks as she is recounting everything to the reporter.
Another scene that I enjoyed was the White House Tour. Shots of the real Jackie Kennedy are intertwined with shots of Natalie Portman, but the effect is seamless. The same exact words and camera angles used during Mrs. Kennedy’s real White House Tour are used in the film. Although this part of the movie seems irrelevant to the plot, it shows her relation to Abraham Lincoln’s wife. Kennedy knew what happened to Lincoln’s wife when Lincoln was assassinated and did not want the same thing to happen to her. In fact, in the movie Kennedy says that she wants to sell the furniture to be able to put her kids through school. Lincoln’s wife has sold the White House furniture to make ends meet and Kennedy was afraid she was going to suffer the same fate.
Overall, I would recommend this movie to anyone who doesn’t mind watching an upsetting film.
In many films, even today, women are underrepresented. For instance, films that portray women do not give them as many speaking lines as men. Carpentier, in her article, discusses how in the movie, “Mulan,” the dragon had more speaking lines than Mulan. Clearly, Mulan is the most important character in that movie, but because she is a women she is not given as much attention. This is largely becuase most writers and directors are male.
Films that do feature women with large speaking roles are largely known as “chick flicks.” In other words, movies that are enjoyed by both men and woman must have predominantly men speaking characters, but if the movie focuses around women, then the movie is for woman only. Budd Beotticher remarks that the role of women in a film is to represent something for the male character. Does she inspire love in the man? Does she inspire him to act a certain way? In every instance, the man serves at the end goal. In fact, Laura Mulvey, in her article, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” argues that directors position women in shots to serve the purpose of having the man be the end goal, but women the visual support.
Most people are not surprised when they see women without large speaking roles in cinema. In fact, many people criticize movies when they show a strong female role. For instance, when the new Star Wars film came out, many people complained that Rey was the focus point of the movie, because for many it was unbelievable that a female character had an integral role in the film.
Even though women are underrepresented from both an acting and directing standpoint, there are a many actors/directors/writers that stand out. Here are two that stood out to me:
Euzhan Palcy, writer, director and producer from the French West Indes.
Alice Guy, first female director.
From the late 1960s to the mid 1970s, Hollywood existed in a pre-blockbuster golden era. This era of film making contains many of my favorite films including Mike Nichols’ “The Graduate”, John Schlesinger’s “Midnight Cowboy”, Martin Scorsese’s “Taxi Driver,” George Roy Hill’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and George Roy Hill’s “The Sting.” However, I had never seen any of Cassavetes’ films until watching “A Woman Under the Influence.” During this time, films emphasized realism and rejected traditional rules for dialogue. Thomas Doherty, in his work, “Hollywood’s Pre-Blockbuster Golden Era” calls this era of film making “a New Hollywood Renaissance that matched the best of the classical era.” Many of the films of this time were more realistic and improvisational.
John Cassavetes’ film, “A Woman Under the Influence” encompasses this era of film making. The film follows Nick, a city construction worker, and his desire to help his crazy wife Mabel and their 3 kids. The film is very dramatic in a serious way. The instances where there is the most tension in the film, like when the doctor comes over and Nick’s mother is present are not unlike something that would happen in real life. The instance where this is most obvious is a the party Nick threw for his wife. Nick is really happy that his wife is coming home and invites dozens of people to celebrate. Nick’s mother advises him that there are too many people and she tells them to leave. As Todd Berliner, in his article “Hollywood Movie Dialogue and the “Real Realism” of John Cassavetes”, remarks, the mother’s speech is abnormal for cinema and more accurately reflects real life. She does not communicate effectively nor speak flawlessly. Instead the mother changes direction and emphasis in her words, going from a loving tone, to a more demanding tone and back to a more loving tone. Here it reflects real life because she changes what she is saying as she is saying it. Cassavetes really accomplishes the “blending of art and reality” as Todd Berliner describes. The success of the movie lies in this bending. The movie’s reality makes it much more provocative and though inducing whereas a more traditional studio film would not leave as much of a response. Overall, I would recommend the film to others who want to understand how film evolved from early cinema to the blockbuster hits that we see today.
In his work, “What is Cinema,” Andre Bazin teaches his audience about how cinema exists within the history of art and how cinema has changed since its inauguration. Firstly, Bazin describes cinema”as the art of reality.” For him, cinematography is the “furthermost evolution to date of plastic realism.” Ancient Egyptians used to perform burial rituals and create terracotta statues of the dead. This is an example of what Bazin refers to as plastic art, or art that is visual. This art seen in ancient Egypt evolved into paintings. Then photographs became the newest form of plastic art. Lastly, cinema joined the family. Here, Bazin is showing how cinema is a part of art that has evolved through centuries. Moreover, Bazin continues to discuss how film has changed throughout time. One of his focuses was the shift from silent films to “talkies” that occurred from 1928 to 1930. Although, Bazin argues that this shift was not all that different for cinema, this shift is pretty influential. The shift to movies with sound is what allows films to diversify more. In the 1930s to the 1940s different types of film, such as comedy, crime and horror, would not have come. However, films still were all similar in the way they were shot, until Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.” Although I have not seen most of the films referenced by Bazin from this time, I have seen “Citizen Kane.” This film was the first of its kind to change the squence of how a film was shot. Up until this time, movies were filmed the way one would see it if it was shown in a theater. Instead of montage, Citizen Kane uses contrast between scenes. Lastly, Bazin discusses the contrast between films in the 1930s that focused on the development of using sound, to films of the 1940s that explored film shooting techniques. Here Bazin not only references American cinema, but also Italian cinema. During this time films in Europe were also modernizing. Bazin uses his work to discuss how film is a part of plastic art and the evolution of cinema up until 1950.