Precious Bodily Fluids

The Notorious Bettie Page

At the endorsement of a former advisor, took in this one for the sake of its worth with regard to the male gaze, et al. But does anything distinguish it from everything else that’s out there? Perhaps one thing, at least. The film makes a fairly strong division between its form and content; while the content certainly revolves around the male gaze, objectification of the male body, male dominance over the woman, etc., the film avoids a formal parallel. Certainly some scenes frame Bettie (Gretchen Mol) as a pinup, but the film is largely shot from her POV, at least attempting (though not always succeeding) to give Bettie the formal agency. Since her life was devoid of any kind of narrative agency, the effort made to suture the viewer to her is admirable. Still, the film falls into the trap of the biopic, often wallowing in the image of the person, in this case the visual image of Bettie (i.e. the female form), rather than doing something more formally experimental and interesting and withholding that image from the viewer. What if we did not see Bettie during the photo shoots any more than Bettie saw herself? What if we were given a taste of the POV on the other side of the camera? The film at times attempts to do something like this but struggles to make the trip to the other side.

This entry was published on November 8, 2010 at 4:58 pm. It’s filed under 2000s Cinema, American film and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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