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View or edit your browsing history. Get to Know Us. Simultaneously, he takes to task and does so by following the work of Copjek the theorists of the s and s, and particularly those around the influential British film journal Screen, who sought to politicize film studies through psychoanalysis, with recourse to a Lacan read through the work on ideology as conceived of by Louis Althusser. McGowan however makes the incisive point that these theorists, whose work revolutionized the discipline Jean-Louis Baudry, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, Stephen Heath, and others based their thought on misreadings of Lacan and gaze theory.
Gaze is contained within the structure of the film itself, rather than an exterior element that focuses on a screen that in turn acts as mirror, within which the spectator identifies himself or misrecognizes himself, hence ideology. The leading male actor is thereby subjectified, while the female protagonist is objectified by the male fantasy as passive as exhibitionist masochism , she is rendered object by both active male protagonist and the projecting male spectator. McGowan argues though that the emphasis on the Imaginary, within which Mulvey and later Heath on suture locate the gaze, is founded on a misreading.
McGowan insists that contrary to these thinkers, screen spectatorship takes place in the realm of the Lacanian Real. Which is to say, while the gaze is content as object rather than subject the active gaze of the male spectator , the question of the gaze is a negative one and a formal one that shapes the structure of the film itself. And, I would add, in the case of the film I will discuss today El Jurado , the spectator becomes thus enmeshed in the formal practices of the film, rather than in any narrative content.
Form draws attention to itself by displacing convention. While El Jurado is a film that makes use of the traditional cinematic genre — that is, the form — of the courtroom drama it does so in order to disturb the premises of that genre and it does so precisely by its focus on the gaze.
Unlike conventional commercial film El Jurado shifts our attention to the gaze as theme rather than seeking to direct our gaze itself. It is a film of people on screen looking out into offscreen space. Its director is a woman. The hour-long film consists of a series of shots of mainly though not exclusively, three out of four female jurors as they hear testimony in a murder trial of a man accused of killing his girlfriend, whose body it seems was abandoned in the street on a bench.
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A crime of domestic violence. The entire trial takes place off screen beyond the visual reach of the spectator whose desire is in this way negated, repressed, shut away in some kind of off-screen unconscious. It is, in this sense, an internal dialectic or at least a dialogue between distinct structural elements marked by the positive and negative form of the film: The spectator is privy to nothing other than the faces of the jurors.
Nonetheless we hear the questioning of the defense lawyers and the prosecutor, the interventions of the judge, and the testimony of the expert witnesses as well as the man accused of the murder. The entire film is also punctuated by the shuffling of papers and inaudible murmuring.
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There is also no denoument. We never learn the outcome of the trial, it is denied us. Nor are we present during the deliberations of the jury. What we share with the jury is not the tension of the judicial encounter but, as I will discuss later, the tedium of the experience. Form is what goes largely unnoticed, if the spectator is successfully sutured within the text. And yet El Jurado is a film that foregounds its own form, that makes the positioning of the spectator part of the filmic process itself.
It is the enunciation of a structural division of labor but also of a psychic division between that which is visible and that which is not. El Jurado is a film of portraits, fragmented portraits. Two things can be said about the portrait. The gaze for most of the film is not diegetic in that the women jurors gaze into off screen space.
Irrespective of our gender as spectators our gaze can never coincide with theirs precisely because we are denied access to that space. The gaze as conceived of in non-Lacanian terms is always profilmic, it is that of the camera, of the camera operator, or the director they are the same person in this case , who is a woman. Here though the jurors are filmed from above and at an angle.
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These slightly out-of — focus, distorted, blurry images, medium shots of the jurors focus on their tics, the boredom of the proceedings. There is though a shared alienation in the ordeal of the filmic process itself. It is as if the notion of duty, of the onorous civic duty of jury service, of its labor were being experienced by the spectator. Just as the aspect of the thriller, or the melodrama of the courtroom is beyond the frame, the imprecision produced of the digital technology effects a humanizing blurring that departs from the cosmetic emulsion of cinema.
Indeed the angle of the camera, filming from above, violates the traditional conceptualization of Renaissance perspective that has dominated visual culture ever since , that point at which the gaze comes into focus. Here the camera remains unfocused throughout the film. Further, the jurors are, at first, seemingly oblivious to the fact they are being filmed. On our part the alienation we experience provides the negative charge of the film; we are denied the filmic satisfaction to which we are accustomed.
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In any case, the traditional conception of the gaze does not pertain here. The shared alienation between spectator and juror is not the same as identification. We feel as we do because of the structure of the film itself, the tedium built into it by the formal setting and the filming, by that is, the form of the film and not because we identify with any character on screen.
Very much not part of the proceedings, visually denied to us, the film puts us to the test, as the trial does with the jurors themselves, the experience in both instances is a question of endurance; compulsion, obligation, laborious duration. This is a cinema of mind-numbing boredom, of time distorted, elongated, of negation. If the conventional courtroom drama of commercial film depends on rarefied, exceptional circumstances in a race against time, here urgency has also been banished off-screen, to the sidelines of invisibility: However, while that is certainly the case, what is equally interesting about El Jurado is not so much this kind of replacements configurations of criteria — courtroom evidence, witnessness, experts, video proof; the jurors themselves and their facial and other bodily reactions, the judgement of the camera as it focuses on them, our judgement of them and of the film, as spectators and critics , as it is of the displacements.
Metonymy outweighs the metaphor. The metonymic field is there in the administration of justice and the evidence presented unseen by us. It is there contiguous to what we see but separate invisible to us. We are partialized and made metonym, made desiring objects. There is in this marginalization, in this negative charge to the film, an off-screen surplus, an excess beyond the frame that lures us as it partializes us, the spectators.
The part of the trial upon which we are eavesdropping largely consists of video evidence. The evidence provided by street surveillance cameras. We quite literally watch a video of the jurors watching a video. It is, in a way, a film about surveillance. And at the same time we are privy to the comments and the interrogation of experts who continually return at the behest of the lawyers to the video evidence, to the series of recordings and we are listening, of course, to a recording.
Elena Oroz links the notion of video evidence to the eternal debate in film studies concerning indexical relation of the thing filmed to the film itself a debate fuelled by the onset of video and then digital video — the pixelation of the images is a constant reminder that we are watching the jurors in digital format.
That is to say, the debate over the reliability of digital video as opposed to celluloid here takes on the question of truth in a courtroom. Truth and justice, the reliability of evidence in the pursuit of culpability. What then is on trial here?
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The man accused of murdering his partner or the format of how it was recorded? The trial here is of the veracity of the visual image, that of a visual image we never actually see and the one we do. The trial proper — to recall the early idea of metonymy — provides the off- screen soundtrack to the film: What we are left with are the inarticulable portraits of the anonymous jurors caught up in a swirling discourse on truth and justice, charged with determining a guilt that is never actualized.
This meanwhile returns us to the notion with which I started, that of symmetry. We conceive of symmetry in terms of mirror images, yet these are consistently thwarted in El Jurado. While absent except in auditory form, the off-screen courtroom drama provides snippets of speech that bookend the film itself in a form of filmic self-reflexivity.
Simultaneous to the hesitant, paused, and fumbling speech of the lawyers and court officials an auditory correlation to the defective digital image of which we are spectators, as well as the deficient video screened in the courtroom , the rustling of papers, the murmurs and the whispers, the camera zooms in to the final juror of the film. While the previous jurors were all female, this final sequence is a lengthy single shot of a male juror.
None of the previous female jurors had turned her head upwards toward the camera but this one does. In this final sequence of the film his eyes meet the lens of the camera. In the course of some 10 minutes this exchange of looks from the camera to the male juror and back is repeated again and again. This is emphatically not a gaze constitutive of subjectivity. In a film in which we hear a significant amount of commentary on surveillance, this man is unable to see his own image as we are incapable of seeing ours in him.
This is not the kind of self-observation or self-surveillance that psychoanalysis associates with conscience. While the camera maintains the juror in the frame, we hear a witness proclaiming the unreliability of the video evidence.
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Owing to its poor quality of the film, the expert witness in question declines to evaluate it, he says that he cannot offer an opinion based on such evidence. Then we see more of the male juror chewing his nails, looking upwards, trapped in the gaze of the camera. And in the courtroom out of the frame we hear a desembodied comment referring presumably to the surveillance cameras of the video evidence: Steven Marsh, University of Illinois at Chicago. He is moreover interested in the processes of writing itself. His films abound with images of typewriters, letters and notes, written wills and testimony.
Animals abound in his work as do the prosthetic addenda of the human. The convergence, moreover, of the writer and the filmmaker brings into focus not only the encounter between the two important yet discrete elements in his work the word and the image but also the philosophical bedrock underlying his work: Fata morgana , for which he wrote the screenplay, and Las Crueles , based on one of his short stories. Commissioned by the regional government of the Canary Islands, Tindaya Chillida is about the sacred, the primordial, and the primeval. It concerns structure and space, the material mass of nature as molded by man; it is a film whose images focus on the horizon, the sun and the moon, the curl and coil of the waves of the ocean, and the unnerving landscape as subject to the creative impulse and its proximity to destruction.
Sexperiencias/sexual Experiences (Spanish Edition) (Paperback)
More than a rupture, however, his project has the characteristics of an attempt to begin from scratch, from the nothing, the void itself. De ser posible, nada. He is interested, as we will see, in the transference between nature and man. The resonance and the residue produced of the contact between the two, or at least the possibilities generated in the space—the intervals, the gaps—where the two meet.
It is, to return to the analogy with Chillida, the space of creation. More than anything else though it points to a way of considering interiority and exteriority. From the outside it is concerned with the translation from written text to screen image, the relation between literature and film. From the inside, however, the transferences produced are within the diegeses themselves.
It is a relation that turns on questions of form. This mutating relationship between the interior and the exterior is often expressed in the figure of exergue: Aoom points to this space of exergue in terms suggestive of the void, the resounding emptiness at the fringe of being and meaning. After further mutations, Ristol eventually ends up trapped within a stone. In her written name the letter N occupies a space between the two As. Its fold doubles inwards from the exterior margins that frame the letter N. Just as the title of the film onomatopoeically defines it—that is, performatively as a primal speech act—we learn from the distorted and disembodied voice that introduces Aoom , its ending: The initial image of this introductory sequence is that of the hues swirling in the pearly interior of an abalone shell.
The camera up close to the rugged, barnacled surface of its exterior shifts to register the frozen petroleum-tinged flow of the running colors of its inner layer. This visual sense of delirium is reinforced aurally by the booming explanatory voice off-screen echoing in a cave-like chamber of rock and the crash of waves. Both also point to an exceeding of the limits that define and demarcate the self. In a further example of interior subjectivity submitted to the excesses of exterior forces, the characters of Aoom vie with the wildness of the natural surroundings of the northern coastline.
They battle through dense woodland, are over-shadowed by the craggy rock face they clamber across, with its inaccessible caves into which crowds the foam of the ebbing sea; the sea itself that swarms around them, its tidal flows are a constant threat. Barely verbal at best he is monosyllabic , he is denied the word, subject and subjugated to his spectacular surroundings and the often loquacious characters he encounters. Early on in the film he is trapped like Ristol in the rock in quick sands on the beach; in a bubbling, swarming example of active and menacing nature—nature that is alive rather than inert—he is sucked up to his waist in the sinking soil, in its groundlessness.
The hapless detective caught up like flotsam in the general maelstrom that surrounds him is, on one level, spun around in a dance move by the lascivious witch who pursues him, while on another, is left literally rudderless to float out to sea sprawled on his back with no oars, exhausted and feeble, in a rubber dingy, subject to the unpredictable tides, the capricious sea currents.
Uncontrollable and impulsive, he will later attempt and fail to hang himself; he briefly swings in mid-air, an unmoored pendulum undulating against the horizon, before being rescued and cut down. Later when a full wineskin turns up as a piece of marine debris on the beach he drinks greedily from it to the point of inebriation. While both Constantino and the detective are ungrounded, their subjectivity, their interiority, is defined by forces external to them: While the cruel and rugged natural habitat of the Cantabrian littoral reflects the interiority of these characters, their fate is determined structurally in the film in the fragmentation of its narrative swirl.
She trawls for seaweed to fertilize the land surrounding her isolated house. Her first appearance on screen is of her silhouette against the horizon, rowing counter-current in her boat against the flow of the sea. While not a commentary on the political situation in Spain, the film does, quite self-consciously, complicate the relation between reality and fiction or more precisely, representation. It is seemingly a fantasy; a film that stretches the limits of realism, abstract in that it extracts elements of representation, subtracting or negating them. This is important, as we will see, given the role of Mephistopheles in the film.
There is then a node of realism in the fantasy. It is a stream of consciousness science-fiction version of a Faust played by Puig Palau consumed by his own dreams. Such changes also affect other characters in the film. The literary figure of Faust is, of course, also one who seeks to exceed all existential limits and boundaries.
Born in Sofia and resident in Madrid since , she is the best known and most internationally renowned contemporary Bulgarian writer. Her first book, Sexperiencias, was published by Random House Spain and got translated into seven languages. It was a great success in many European and Latin American countries. For more information, visit https: Are you an author? Help us improve our Author Pages by updating your bibliography and submitting a new or current image and biography. Learn more at Author Central. Popularity Popularity Featured Price: Low to High Price: High to Low Avg.
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