Representations of sexual violence in cinema film : the classification of three controversial French films

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2006
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. Access is restricted indefinitely. ----- In real life there is a powerful cultural myth that says rape does not happen. The societal blindness can be understood in terms of the operation of particular dominant beliefs. These beliefs create a context in which experiences of sexual assault and rape are constructed in particular ways. The dominant knowledge about sexual assault tells us that only certain women get raped, ‘bad women’ and ‘women who ask for it’. Within this context the societal response to victims has been one which perpetuates self-blame and silence. These cultural myths are played out in their filmic representations. The study firstly examines the representations of rape in dominant cinema and the way rape narratives emerged at key points in the history of 20th century gender relations with earlier films functioning to uphold traditional concepts of masculinity and femininity. Following social action around rape and rape reforms in the 1970s there was a significant change in the character of rape films. Pre-1970s the victim character was usually defined in relation to men as wife or daughter. Post 1970s the rape revenge narrative came into its own with the victim transformed into avenger to exact retribution on her attackers. Further research of a later historical period describes a process of revisionism with rape narratives reworked so that social action seems no longer necessary. The research examines 3 French films Baise-mol Irreversible and A Ma Soeur containing more subversive rape representations which depart from the codes and conventions of dominant cinema and have been the subject of classification controversy in several western countries. The research therefore investigates the conditions of their ‘problematisation’. The responses of the classification regimes of Alberta Canada, Australia, Britain, France, New Zealand and Sweden to these films are examined along with their policies and approaches to the classification of sexual violence.
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