Laura Mulvey: An Interview

Video Data Bank

1992 | 00:30:35 | United States | English | Color | Mono | 4:3 | Video

Collection: On Art and Artists, Interviews, Single Titles

Tags: Film or Videomaking, Interview, Performance, VDB Interviews

Laura Mulvey published her seminal essay "Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema" in 1975; it has subsequently become one of the most influential work in film theory. Using a psychoanalytic methodology to discuss spectatorship, it was groundbreaking in its feminist critique of the sadistic, misogynistic mode of classical Hollywood cinema in which women were objects of fetishistic display for male viewers’ pleasure. She has also written extensively on melodrama, published three books, and co-directed six films, including Riddles of the Sphinx with Peter Wollen (1974).

In this interview, the well-known film theorist describes the mélange of cinephilia and Freudian criticism that led to her best-known work. After being exposed to Hollywood cinema through the passionate work of the Cahiers du cinema crowd, Laura Mulvey’s intellectual autobiography takes a distinctive turn through her immersion in the collaborative milieu of London’s women’s movement, where she had formative intellectual encounters and re-gained the pleasure of cinema through her methodological adventures. Mulvey weighs in on the legacy of her "Visual Pleasure" essay and updates her thinking on popular culture, psychoanalysis and semiotics. Mulvey provides context and commentary for other ventures such as her 16mm film ed-theory, her current influences and preoccupations, and talks about how the questions and goals have changed for image theorists of the contemporary age.

To think popular culture clearly, not as a “romantic collective unconscious, but as a pool of raw material of images, fantasies, mythologies, personifications that organize individual fantasy, transmute individual fantasy like as it were a kind of shortcut into the social.” --Laura Mulvey

A historical interview originally recorded in 1992 and re-edited in 2006.

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