The Art Association of Australia and New Zealand Annual Conference
Floating in a Dreamlike Room: The Virgin Suicides and Sofia Coppola’s Visuality
University of Sydney
1203 Design Practice and Management
University of Sydney
/University of Technology Sydney
/University of Technology Sydney/Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
/University of Technology Sydney/Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building/School of Design
In one of the memorable sequences of Sofia Coppola’s 1999 film adaptation of The Virgin Suicides, the Lisbon girls are portrayed as contemplating together in a girlishly decorated bedroom, after being confined to their home. In a sense, these girls seem to recreate the clichéd image of imprisoned fairy-tale maidens, be it ‘Sleeping Beauty’, ‘Florine’ in The Bluebird or ‘Rapunzel;’, destined to dream, sing or contemplate in a confined space until their rescue, generally by a man. Particular attention is paid to the aesthetic of ‘sweetly girlish’ bedroom spaces such as this, the visuality of Coppola’s narrative, and the concept of the girls ‘ imprisoned’ in both a space and a filmix aesthetic. But is this film merely a metaphoric narrative of an idealized vision of ‘girlhood’ which is both aesthetically enchanting and restricting? Rather than reading it in this derogatory manner as straightforwardly symbolic of feminine oppression, this paper proposes another reading. Coppola’s film might exemplify the attempt to reevaluate and possibly assign novel meanings to the notion of ‘passivity’; that being in a submissive position could draw central attention to subjectivity, and hence assigning a degree of ‘power’ to the character.
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