All posts by Priscilla Compton

Avatar Motion Capture

Unfortunately when I presented yesterday my media was disconnected, and my clips would not play. One of the clips I wanted to show you all was of the motion capture technology used in Avatar. Although this technology was used to create the fictional Na’vi people in Avatar, in capturing the movements and emotions of real actors, it represents reality. This is problematic because the film presents natives as helpless people who are both conquered and saved by the White man, thereby giving them little agency in determining their own fates.

Summer Internship Opportunity

Hey guys! I personally know how difficult it can be to find production-related internships. If any of you are based in the NYC area and are looking to intern with a Lafayette alumni, here’s some info on an internship opportunity!:

Rebecca Winter, a FAMS major from a few years back, was asked by Kiira Benzing to help find interns for her production company based in NYC (Rebecca interned for her while she was at Lafayette). Kiira graduated from Lafayette in 2007 and now has a production company called Double Eye Productions- she typically produces documentary films. Here’s a link to her website for more info:

The internship would be unpaid, and she would prefer students from the NYC area.

Students can email their resume to: Rebecca will then put them in contact with Kiira.

Hopefully this is helpful to some of you. Good luck if you decide to apply!



Aside from rejecting a metanarrative by drawing attention the the cinematic apparatus, 8 ½ is also self-reflexive. A major criticism of the film was,

“What happens,” asks a Web-based critic, “when one of the world’s most respected directors runs out of ideas, and not just in a run-of-the-mill kind of way, but whole hog, so far that he actually makes a film about himself not being able to make a film?” (

The irony referred to in this criticism is not ironic at all, but completely intentional. A key component of postmodernism is self-reflexivity, and Fellini not only draws on the construction of a film physically (i.e. casting, film sets, script writing), but also mentally. Guido’s struggles in the film may as well have been Fellini’s, but irregardless of whether or not art is imitating life, Fellini’s art is begging for attention to the constructs of film, making it postmodern.

Marxism and the Third Cinema

“The battle begins without, against the enemy (i.e. bourgeoisie) who attacks us, but also within, against the ideas and models of the enemy to be found inside each one of us” (CV 938).

This quote from Solanos and Getino reminded me of the theoretical writings of Antonio Gramsci, who I posted about earlier in the semester- he was briefly mentioned on page 91 in UFT. In the context of Gramsci, who borrowed from Marxist ideology, filmmakers are to be what Grasmci deems “organic intellectuals”. Similar to the Marxist notion of the proletariat overthrowing the bourgeois, the organic intellectuals of a society are supposed to be the first to understand their subordinate position and motivate others to rally against it, overthrowing their oppressors. In this view, filmmakers are tasked with using Third Cinema as a tool to overthrow ideological oppression that has been historically rooted in Hollywood cinema.

Although Solanas and Getino wrote about Third Cinema in the 60s, they were preceded by the Soviet Montage movement. Corrigan et al. briefly dwell on this in their last sentence of their introduction to “Towards a Third Cinema,” saying, “Like the Soviets in an earlier revolutionary moment, Solanas and Gestino see the cinema as a populist and mass medium that transcends barriers of language and literacy” (CV 925). Dziga Vertov and his Soviet contemporaries, “aimed ‘to place at the centre of attention the economic structure of society,’ ‘to open the working masses’ eyes the links uniting visual phenomena,’ and ‘to expose to workers the bourgeois structure of the world’” (Crofts & Rose, “An Essay Towards Man with a Movie Camera, 1977).

It seems that Solanos and Getino’s idea of a Third Cinema has existed since the early days of the medium, and still continues in the present with documentary films like Roger Ross William’s God Loves Uganda (2013), which provides viewers with an awareness of the ideological oppression still enforced by the bourgeoisie today.



Temple of Doom

I was discussing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom with one of my friends from Sri Lanka, who told me that the movie was filmed there. Upon doing some further research, I discovered that it was filmed in Sri Lanka rather than its initial location, India, because the Indian government refused to allow it. The government found the content to be racist and offensive, and even banned its release in the country. After viewing the film, it is no wonder that the Indian government refused to allow filming. Dark skin in this movie equates to a demonized ‘Other,’ with white skin symbolizing civility and heroism.

Here is an excerpt from an article [] with more information on India’s ban of the film:

All of the film’s locations were found in India—and then they couldn’t shoot there.

Producer Robert Watts and production designer Elliott Scott traveled to India to scout the interiors and exteriors for the film, which had a budget of $28 million. All of the exteriors—including the Maharajah’s palace, which was to be shot at an existing palace called Amer Fortand most of the interiors—including the City Palace in Jaipur, which would also stand in for the Maharajah’s palace—were found fairly quickly. But the local government rejected their permits because they found the script to be offensive to Indian culture.

Some deals were made: The production initially agreed to change the locations in the script to a principality on the border of India, and they wouldn’t use the word “maharajah.” But the Indian government balked and demanded final cut of the film in order to censor what they deemed unworthy, which forced Watts and Scott to pack up and leave.

Later, the team decided to shoot certain exteriors in Kandy, a Sri Lankan city, while others—most importantly, the Maharajah’s palace—would be shot on the Paramount backlot and expanded using matte paintings. Further interiors, like the temple itself, would be constructed on soundstages at Elstree Studios in London.

After its release, Temple of Doom was banned in India, but the ruling has since been rescinded.

Hated Here, Despised There, and Pitied Everywhere

Earlier this year I wrote a paper on African-American raced based humor. In similar vein to the discussions of portrayals of blacks in film we had in class, my paper explored whether race-based humor (i.e. when African-American comedies speak of race in their acts) enforces stereotypes or helps to break them down. In essence, can there be a correct way of addressing race in comedy? Here is a little excerpt about Du Bois’ thoughts on race from my paper:

Du Bois demands that blacks have faith in their own self-worth, saying:, “hated here, despised there, and pitied everywhere; our one haven of refuge is ourselves, and but one means of advance, our own belief in our great destiny, our own implicit trust in our ability and worth” (Du Bois 1897: 150). Dick Gregory, as one of the first stand up comedians to appeal to both black and white audiences, speaks to Du Bois’ demand for a trust in one’s own ability, thereby, in Du Bois’ terms, advancing the race:

Some [white audience members] are going to feel sorry for me because I’m a Negro, and some of them are going to hate me because I’m a Negro. Those who feel sorry might laugh a little at first. But they can’t respect someone they pity, and eventually they’ll stop laughing all together. Those who hate me aren’t going to laugh at all… I’ve got to go up there as an individual first, and a Negro second. I’ve got to be a colored funny man, not a funny colored man. I’ve got to act like a star who isn’t sorry for himself—that way, they can’t feel sorry for me” (Watkins 2002: 215).


Gregory speaks to the struggle of the ways in which a person must portray their black identity. African-Americans have to tip-toe around how they present themselves as to not be pitied or the butt of a joke. As Carly mentioned in her post, this predicament, as outlined by Dick Gregory, brings about the question- will there ever be a fair depiction of blacks in the media?


Representation of the Gay Community

Today we spoke in class about the representation of Jack and Ennis as being overtly masculine characters. It could be argued that their representation in this way may makes their homosexual identity more easily digestible to a wider range of audiences; specifically heterosexual males. In Mercer’s piece “Dark and Lovely,” he speaks to the problems this kind of representation presents:

In a situation where the right to representation is rationed and regulated, so that minorities experience restricted access to the means of representation, there is often an assumption on the part of funding institutions and an expectation on the part of the audiences that they should “speak for” their particular community (CV 744).

In this case, other homosexual identities are neglected for one which, as aforementioned, that might cater better to heterosexual audiences. Brokeback Mountain does not “speak for” any gay person who does not behave in a way that is typically considered hypermasculine, i.e. fishing, tractor riding, gun wheeling men.

Writing about Brokeback, Film critic Roger Ebert counters this point, saying,

Strange but true: The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone. I can imagine someone weeping at this film, identifying with it, because he always wanted to stay in the Marines, or be an artist or a cabinetmaker (

Watching the scene in which Jack and Ennis are arguing over the brevity of their times at Brokeback, I was reminded of a past long distance relationship that I had and the heartache it entailed. I am sure that others viewing the film each identified with specific points as well.

Despite the pressure and impossibility to represent a whole group of people in a film, Ebert’s argument points to the commercial success of Brokeback. By underrepresenting part of the gay community, Ang Lee is able to have a wider audience empathize with the relationship between Jack and Ennis, thereby potentially supporting those not represented in the film.

Reversing the Gaze

“In a world ordered by sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its fantasy onto the female figure, which is styled accordingly. (UFT 155).

I would argue that Mamma Mia (2008) does not “return” the gaze, but reverses it by either directly objectifying men, or at least denying them the opportunity to command control of the passive female.

Until the wedding scene in which Donna (Meryl Streep) reluctantly agrees to marry Sam (Pierce Brosnan), Donna maintains power in her relationships with all of her former love interests, even demanding that they leave the hotel. It is only until Donna marries Sam that her position of power is altered- and even in that case Sam does not gain power, but their relationship becomes ‘even/neutral’.

Donna’s best friend, Tanya (Christine Baranski), similarly maintains control in her relationship with her admirer Pepper (Philip Michael). Tanya uses her overt sexuality to subject Pepper to her whims. Although she is an object of Pepper’s desire and therefore his “gaze”, Tanya commands ultimate control, denying his advances.

Rosie (Julie Walters), another of Donna’s best friends, is the active female in relation to a passive male, Bill (Stellan Skarsgard). Rosie’s “determining gaze” occurs in one of the final scenes of the film, where she pursues a reluctant Bill relentlessly until he finally returns her advances.

The relationships between men and women in this film reflect the authorship of an all female production team. With their influence, women in this film escape the gaze, allowing them to deflect it, control it, or use it to their own devices.

The Film Must Not Contain Superficial Action

I found myself feeling anxious as Helene and the hotel receptionist looked around the room of Helene’s deceased sister, with Helene commenting that she felt her presence in the room. The Vow of Chasity stipulates that “the film must not contain any superficial action” (UFT 113). Vinterberg is able to conjure discomfort in the viewer without the help of an animated apparition, or otherwise fabricated fabricated figure simply through suggestion. He suggests that a spirit is present through the handheld overhead shots of Helene stepping into the bathroom. Similarly, during Christian’s dream sequence, Vinterberg skates around creating a superficial scene by grounding it in reality, i.e. the incessant ringing of the phone in the hotel room. Again, in Christian’s dream, his sister is not a computer generated ghost, but is instead made to look like an apparition with only the flame of a lighter to illuminate her face. Deren nods to Vinterberg’s techniques when she describes how the absence of an actor in cinema (unlike in theatre–where the presence of an actor is a necessity) can contribute to a greater sense of reality for the viewer (CV 66).

This convention of The Vow of Chastity, although seemingly limiting, still offers immense creativity on the part of the filmmaker. Vinterberg’s suggestion of a spirit, through the exploration of the deceased’s former bedroom, or her appearance in a dream, achieves expressive qualities that even the best CGI cannot match.


We spoke briefly today about the genre of blockbuster films. I just came across this interesting article which speaks about how Titanic (1997) secured its record breaking 200 million dollar budget, and the trials and tribulations that came along with getting it made–including PCP laced lobster chowder which sent 80 crew members to the hospital (allegedly laced by a disgruntled chef).

Here’s the link to the article: