Auterism and Feminism

(You can cut off this portion in case you don't need it. It was meant to give you an outline of the contents of the paper.)

The paper outline

A general introduction

  • Addressing the ignored position of authorship in  film criticism
  • Exploring the vital position of authorship in any works of theatre(Film)
  • Exploring the connection between the author and the content/subject matter in a film

Statement of problem

  • Introduction of the aspect of authorship
  • Outlining its connection to the societal, economic and political aspects in the society
  • Bringing in the issue of feminism
  • Indicating what the main task shall entail: discussing the connection between autenism and feminism and the importance of authorship in the social and political environment


Brief definition of terms

  • Definition of authorship/autenism- as the main mind behind the content of every final film that the viewers finally interact with.
  • Definition of feminism
  • Outlining some emergent issues regarding the aspect of feminism
  • Indicating the position of female directors in the industry
  • Outlining some of the challenges faced by the female directors in their bid to explore this field.
  • Describing the aspect of the voice of the author and its distinct importance in any piece of work.

Introduction of the main figure (Jane Campion)

  • Background information about Jane Campion
  • A brief overview of some of her works
  • An outline of her of success in the field of film directing
  • Introduction of some of her works which will be used to back up the trend and flow in the discussion.
  • This portion also involves use of quotes extracted from some of her films to back up the discussion

Discussion of the relationship between auterism and feminism

  • Bringing out a clear connection between authorship and feminism
  • Mentioning other female directors apart from Campion and briefly describing their stands, arguments and stand in line with this discussion.
  • Use of evidence from an assorted sample of films by different directors to enhance the discussion.
  • Exploring the trends which have been embraced by most female directors in the film industry and attaching it to the main topic of discussion.
  • Most female directors tend to address the major issue of feminism in their works. This is confirmed in the discussion using the very selected films by the two contemporary authors.


Importance of authorship in the political and social arena in the society

  • A summary of the main points discussed in the body of the essay
  • A recollection of some of the main facts
  • Outlining some of the attachments between authorship and the society
  • Highlighting how authorship can be applied in the political society and hence its importance.
  • Some suggestions on the way forward and how authorship can be used in an appropriate manner to benefit the society more. For instance by making it an avenue for addressing some of the emergent and key issues involving the society today.

Many at times when the audiences settle down to watch a film and present their portions of ideas and critism; it is less than often that they will consider the process through which the work went. Individuals tend to concentrate mainly on the final work. However, the mostly ignored aspect which involves the subjects responsible for bringing the contents together deserve more attention than it has always been accorded. Apart from the members of the cast and the intriguing scenes that we finally interact with in the completed work, there are always the masterminds behind it. The most important aspect of any artistic work inform of a film is the author. This is because the whole of what the viewers finally get to interact with is usually but the subjected mind and acted ideas of the film's author (Penley, 1988: 123).

In line with that, it is a fact worth noting that the authorship of a film has a special way of influencing what this piece of work will end up being especially in the consumer fraternity. It is equally true that the authors hunt for a lot of information and ideas which are then incorporated to ensure that the film is as successful as possible. Any work of art or rather any film that is intended at reaching a variety of people and passing across the desired message should therefore be in line with the current situation of the society. In other words, they ought to offer an effective reflection of the nature of the society for instance its nature politically, socially and economically just to mention but a few (Smelik, 1998: 78). Because of that, the success of most contemporary authors has majorly been pinned on the extent to which their works have connected to one or more of the societal components mentioned above.

Going by the introduction above, it is important at this point to bring on board what is intended to be the main task in this paper. A series of theories have emerged in a bid to explain the rather wide aspect of authorship especially in the film industry. From the stipulations and argument placed within them it has been deducible that the theories have got a considerable amount of influence on certain key aspects in the society. Such issues may include the political as well as the social movements like feminism. This paper shall therefore seek to explore the relationship that exists between auterism and feminism. At the same time the discussion will seek to explore the extent to which the above mentioned issue might reflect the political as well as the social importance of authorship. The arguments and the discussions in this paper will be done with a close reference to the works of Jane Campion together with a few other female film makers.

In the field of film critism many a theorist have held on to the fact that the film offers the exact reflection of the thoughts and the personal creative vision of the director or rather the author. Despite the other processes that a film might go through for instance in the stage of production for it to fit the industrial requirements, the voice of the author usually remains as distinct as possible. In a nut shell, a film can simply be treated as a work of art. This therefore qualifies the author to be identified as the creator and in some cases; they are referred to as the director.

The above stipulation only helps to emphasize the information regarding who an author is in the film industry. Perhaps it is high time we take the bull by the horns and proceed to handle the major requirement in this case. What exactly is the relationship between authorship and feminism? To help us find a tacit answer to this simple looking but rather deep question will be an analysis of a list of works by Jane Campion. Campion who was born in 1954 is a famous film maker as well as a screenwriter. She has been considered as one of the most successful women writers among the New Zealand directors. In addition, she is second among a group of four women who have ever been nominated for the academy award for the best director. She is known for a number of films for instance: Sweetie (1989), Portrait of a Lady (1996), The Piano (1993), An Angel at My Table (1990, In the Cut (2003) and Holy Smoke (1999) just to mention but a few.

Perhaps the most dominant issue from the above information might not be the fact that this author has spearheaded the production of such successful pieces. The fact which is worth recognizing and hence building upon is that the author is actually a female (Swan, 2005: 59). Just as it had been mentioned earlier, the voice of an author remains distinct in a film despite the amount of transformation that this piece of work might go through. This implies that in the wholeness of any film and the concerns of the original creators ought to be adequately addressed and made so clear that she/he is able to reach the final audience with these ideas. It is however quite unfortunate that this has never been the case in most of the analyses. Individuals have taken the half baked approach where the authorship is totally scraped aside and only other less important elements are used to derive the meaning or the main subject matter in a film. If this has been the case, then one can confidently speculate that it becomes even worse when the author is a female. This happens as a result of the stereotypical prejudgments made by people and inclined upon gender based issues.

The above revelation therefore makes the exploration of the connection between auterism and feminism not only an interesting one but also timely (Cook, 1996: 80).  At this point, it is hard to avoid coming up with a concise description of the aspect of feminism before moving on to establish its connection to authorship. In the simplest of all definitions, feminism can be regarded as a collection of movements which are all aimed at defending, defining and establishing equal economic, political and social rights as well as equal opportunities for women. The wider aspect of feminism in most cases deals with the problems faced by women in their bid to overcome the social barriers. In some cases, individuals have argued that the concept may touch on both men and women and it greatly involves the liberation of both genders from the cultural roles. So the big question here is: what is the relationship between feminism and auterism (Authorship)

Due to the fact that a work of art like a film can be manipulated into an effective avenue where the creator gets to expose his/her ideas concerning certain issues, we can well note that Jane Campion has achieved much in this case. She is one of those rare female directors who has managed the odds and challenges faced by women in the contemporary world especially in such a sensitive area as the film industry. One can well describe her as a real icon of feminism. This is because a closer look at most if not all her works will enable one to realize that she has always sought to define and establish some of the pertinent issues especially those challenging women in our society today. Perhaps at this point, it is possible to place it all together that the position of authorship has been utilized by many an artist to address the issues surrounding certain key political and social movements like feminism. This therefore gets to expose one connection between the two aspects in question (Humm, 1997: 67).

For instance in the film The Piano, Campion gets to explore in a detailed manner the life of a mute pianist together with her daughter. Right from the beginning of the story, the audience becomes familiar with the rather desperate life of the protagonist and her daughter. Both of them serve as the main characters in the film. In the first place, the woman (Ada) had been sold to a marriage by the father. She was forced to marry a New Zealand frontiersman. In addition to that, the daughter  " the product of a relationship with a teacher whom Ada thought she could control with her mind." (Radkiewicz, 2003: 48)The unfortunate thing that resulted is that the man "...became frightened and stopped listening" (Humm, 1997: 89) hence he left her. By picking just a small portion of the analysis of this film, one gets to vividly see the clear reflection of the very life and challenges of most women in the contemporary world. The muteness of Ada in the film is symbolic of the many women in the society who have been squeezed so much by their circumstances that they barely are in position to speak for themselves and hence defend their rights. As the film progresses, Ada and the daughter miss accommodation and end up spending in cold place at the shore. A man fails to offer them room citing his small house. It is evident that the two ladies in the film endure these challenges mainly because of their gender and hence the kind of view that others (especially the men) have of them in the society.

In the above case, we have managed to make a clear image of the way the author of the film has utilized her position to address some of the common problems facing women in the society (Mayne, 1990: 78). Feminism seeks to establish equality both in opportunities and rights especially of women. Making such issues as vivid as in the film described above can therefore be interpreted as a wakeup call for women to begin reconsidering their position in the society. At the same time it is a reminder for men to revise their treatment and perspective towards women. Secondly Campion also achieves to relate authorship with feminism in the film In the Cut, an erotic thriller film produced in 2003. In this case, an affair germinates between a high school teacher (Frannie) and a detective (Malloy). The detective in actual sense is investigating "... a series of murders of young women in the neighborhood." (Stevenson, 2000: 140). As the film progresses, the affair grows stronger and stronger. In the long run, it is alleged that the detective could probably have been the perpetrator of the series of murders he is investigating. This is another piece of work by Campion in which she uses her position as an author to expose the kind of treatment that men have since accorded women in the society today. It is ironical that Malloy is conducting the investigation yet possibities are that he actually killed the women. What is the most vivid picture once again in this case is that the victim is a female or rather the victims are females.

Jane Campion maintains the same trend of exploring the usual issues and challenges which concern the women in the society. This can be emphasized in most of her subsequent films like Sweetie and The Holy Smoke.  In both cases, the author uses the aspect of love and romance to depict the kind of torture that women go through. In most of these cases, they end up being the victims of failed relationships even after investing almost the whole of themselves in a bid to make things work out. Apart from Jane Campion, there are a number of other contemporary female film makers whose works can be used to bring out the connection between authorship and feminism. They include Kathryn Bigelow, Penny Marshal, Andrea Arnold, Nancy Meyers and Dorothy Arzner all of which have gone down in history as great female film authors who managed the challenges and went ahead to deliver greatly in this field.

For instance, in the film The Wild Party (1929), Dorothy Arzner gets to paint a rather vivid picture of the kind of life that entails a girl child. The women in the film are depicted as desperate for love and attention. Most of them sacrifice a lot including their reputation in order to win the attention of men. This can be interpreted as low self esteem because as depicted in the film, the men seem to show less concern for the women let alone respect. This can be confirmed by the harsh treatment which the ladies receive while drinking at the bar.

In all of the cases which have been outlined above, it is evident how the female authors have shown a lot of concentration on the women issues in their works. One of the most dominant themes which have been explored in most of the cases above is the issue of romance where women have been depicted as the ultimate victims (Stevenson, 2000: 104). As a result, we can deduce that authorship has provided an appropriate avenue especially for the women film makers to address some pertinent issues in line with feminism. This can therefore be considered as one of the most vital relationships between authorship and feminism. In other words, the former has always provided appropriate grounds in which issues concerning the latter have then been addressed.

In conclusion it is important to also bring out the importance of the relationship that has just been revealed in the above discussion. After achieving such a connection between the two issues which have been discussed, it is therefore possible to note the importance with which authorship prevails both in the political as well as the social arena. Authorship is a tool which can be used by many a film maker to address certain key issues which are prevalent in the society (Mounsey, 2002: 93). These may include a reflection of the social, economic as well as the political status of a given society. With the right approaches employed in the field of authorship, it becomes possible for the members of the society to be effectively informed of some of the key issues. In addition to that, authorship can also form a good ground where the solutions to the political and social problems are tabled. In a nut shell, apart from only addressing the prevalent issues in the society, the authors can also play a big role in outlining some of the solutions to these problems.

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