For this blog post analysis I will be discussing the short film we watched in class on 12/2 Hold Me While I’m Naked directed by George Kuchar in 1966. I will look at the male gaze within the first few minutes minus the opening credits. Here is the link for the short on youtube
The first shot opens to an outdoor setting in what looks to be a run down part of New York City. The actress in the film being shot is running a long a chain link fence as George Kuchar (playing himself?) is holding the camera filming her from an eye level medium shot. As she is running Kuchar is directing her telling her to run and look scared. Towards the end of the fence, as Kuchar is trucking the camera alongside the fence until a young man comes into frame. He has his back against the fence as the actress (Donna Kerness) continues running in the background, and eventually out of frame as the shot stops on a close up of the young mans face. There is a sort of uneasy jump cut to the next shot, which is a long shot, where Kerness is running this time along the facade of a different building, she is running pretty clumsily and turns back to see if anyone is chasing or maybe watching her. There is another cut this time to a close up of Kerness, she is still looking to see if there is anybody there either chasing or possibly watching her, she is clearly distraught. She looks in the opposite direction of the camera and there is a cut to a long shot of what looks to be the same young man from earlier leaning on the side of a building, he is staring towards the camera from a distance. It cuts back to The close up of Kerness as she is turning her head back to the camera as if she had noticed the young man was looking at her, then she turns and runs away. The last shot before the title sequence is a close up on Kuchar, at first he is holding a hand held camera up, when he brings it down away from his face there is a huge smile on his face.
We can find the male gaze in this sequence, As Donna Kerness is the object, there are two characters gazing upon her: the young man, and George Kuchar, in addition we the audience is gazing upon her. Because Kuchar is behind the camera and she is not looking at him the shot has the voyeur effect on both Kuchar and the audience, as we are taking his point of view. Also the fact that he is speaking loudly to her and telling her what to do gives Kuchar more control over the voyeur effect, as it is his wanting for her to appear to be in more sadistic view. She also seems to not notice the the young man at first, either that or she is running away from him, if he was unnoticed by her, than he too would have a voyeur effect. In the second shot it seems as if Kerness has noticed the male gaze, as she is running she is looking around, but she does not look towards the camera so the audience and Kuchar still have the same voyeur effect. When she noticed the person leaning against the wall Kuchar gives a thumbs up afterwards, almost like its a game and he’s saying that its okay that she knows she’s being watched.
After the title sequence the short reopens with another sequence of Kuchar trying to create his film. There are two very similar shots in a row, at the beginning of the first one Kuchar directs the couple to kiss. There are two medium shots of this couple kissing with slight differences in how the actors physically interact with one another, between the two shots is a few frames of missing film, to give the feel that it is just unedited raw footage. The next shot is of the couple together in bed, the shot is from behind a stain glass window. There is a cut to Kuchar where there is silhouette lighting so you can only make out the shadow of his character. He directs the couple to re-do the take but this time Karness must do it with out a top on. They re-do the take and the shot is similar to the previous one, Kuchar interrupts again to tell them they are done for the day and starts to pack up. The couple goes back to what they were doing with out really caring that Kuchar is leaving.
This sequence of shots is another great example of the male gaze. The framing in the first to shots makes it feel like we are viewing the couple through a window, the couple starts moving out of frame but the camera does not move to keep the in sight. The framing makes it so that the viewer is like a voyeur looking through a window spying on the couple with out them realizing. The couple is also the object not only that the audience is viewing but we also must remember that Kuchar’s character is included in the off screen action. When Kuchar tells the couple what to do it puts him in control and allows him to see what he wants to see. The same effects of voyeurism from the first to shots also applies to the shots that are through the stained glass, except this time the camera actually is positioned outside of a window. The silhouetted shot of Kuchar adds to the voyeurism also. Because we can’t make out his details it is as if he were hiding filming them in secrecy through their window. Even when he leave they don’t even notice, just like a real voyeur.
From the portion of the short that I have analyzed I would definitely agree that Laura Mulvey’s theory of the male gaze is present in the film, how ever i did notice that one part of her theory did not show up in these sequences. That is the “to-be-looked-at-ness”, the male gaze was used mainly in a voyeur sense, the gazer went relatively unnoticed in these shot sequences. But one could argue that in the first sequence when Kerness is running away she is playing into whoever is watching her’s game, by running clumsily and having that damsel in distress look. But all in all I felt that this was an excellent example of the male gaze.