Thursday, 24 December 2009

Happy Christmas Everyone!!

Here's hoping you all have a fantastic Christmas, and don't overdo it with the mince pies!

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Various 'empty street' images that someone might find useful...

I am very happy to finally be back online at home!! :)
Here are a few of my photos that I took last year, some of them might be useful for reference in your projects!The glories of Strood, eh ?

The Stepford Wives...

I'm sure this film affects you differently, depending on your sex and age !

I am in the unenviable position of (vaguely) being able to remember the 70s, and I certainly think that the way that the women were depicted is uncomfortably close to the truth - I remember getting girls magazines at the time and doing the quizzes which told you what your 'style' was and where you were heading in life... so, for example, if you answered mostly 'a', you might be seen as a sporty girl destined for the outdoor life, and might look like this...

On the other hand, if you answered mostly 'b', you might be destined for a life in an office, and look like this...

And of course, if you answered mostly 'c', you were the caring, nurturing type that had a life of servitude to look forward to... You would probably aspire to look like this!

The fourth option,'d' was the one I always tried to get - even if it meant fiddling the answers - the dreamy, romantic, artistic type! And this of course, is how I would have looked if all had gone to plan...

Oh well, you know what they say about the best laid plans...

Anyway, enough of my personal dreams- basically, what I wanted to say was that if you put the film into the context of the time it was made, the outfits the women wore were not particularly strange or outlandish - you had the career photographer in the trouser suit, the outgoing Bobbie in the denim hotpants, and the 'Wives' in their uniform of floral pinafore dresses. Likewise, during my youth the impression was definitely still being given to young girls via magazines, that it was a good thing to have a man to take care of. I wonder how the young women today would feel about that?

I have read a couple of reviews that state that Ira Levin, the writer of the original book, must not like women very much - I disagree, as I feel that overall it is the women that are portrayed as the stronger, more interesting characters, and the men as weak-willed and somewhat pathetic bullies. Not happy with living in a lovely picture-perfect town, having good jobs and beautiful wives, they strive to 'improve' their marriages, by taking away any individuality from the women, replacing them instead with sex-slave domestic robots that won't question their authority, and will devote themselves purely to their husbands pleasure. (How many of you men have said at that point " what's so wrong with that then?" ! )
Anyway, I'm off home now to cook the dinner and do a bit of cleaning....

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


I'm still without Internet at home - that's been nearly a week now! I don't like it!!

Anyway, I would have liked to review this film straight after watching it, as it was certainly quite disturbing. I felt the gradual decline of Carol into madness was brilliantly depicted through the use of the changing shape of the rooms, and the weird camera angles - sometimes you felt like you were spying in on her, especially when the camera was down really low on the floor. At times the house seemed to take on a life of its own, with mouth-like gaping cracks appearing as if getting ready to bite her, and the walls becoming soft and flesh-like, sprouting grasping hands.

The use of the rotting rabbit and the sprouting potatoes were a clever way of both showing the passing of time, and introducing a really disgusting atmosphere to the can just imagine the smell coming off that rotting, maggoty flesh.

Although obviously sexually repressed already, her mental state is not helped by the constant chattering of her work colleagues, referring to men as being disgusting and dirty. This just helps cement the idea in her head that men are to be feared and avoided at all costs. However, as the film goes on, she seems to become more and more masochistic, pushing herself through the groping hands, and smearing on lipstick and waiting for the 'rapist' of her fantasies to appear at night.

I've noticed that some people have described Carol as being a bit dim-witted - I think that she defiantly was mentally 'fragile' from an early age, judging by the look in her eyes in the family photograph, and if she existed these days, she would no doubt have a vast array of social workers on her case. You are left question how and why she became like this - was she abused as a child perhaps, or is it a mental condition she has always lived with?
I would recommend watching another Polanski film ' Rosemary's Baby' - this film is I think even creepier, and Mia Farrow (Rosemary) plays the part of the tormented mother-to-be brilliantly !

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Unheimlichkeit at Dawn!

Yesterday saw the start of the next project...lots of clean slates, and students eager to get going! :)

As an introduction, we watched the brilliant original version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, as good a way as any to introduce the idea of 'the uncanny' or Unheimlichkeit. This word is one I was already familiar with, having grown up with German as a second language, and in my mind it translates best as 'creepy' in the phrase,'es ist Mir unheimlich', you could read, 'it gives me the creeps'.
It's a different idea or feeling to fear or terror, and one which I think is all the more difficult to handle, as often it involves tricks of the mind, meaning that anyone can be overcome with a sense of Unheimlichkeit at any time! Who can honestly say that they have not been spooked by 'something' lurking in the shadows in the safety of their own home, or drawn the curtains because someone (or something!) might be out there watching in at you...? At this stage it is not terror, but how quickly that can escalate and become more than an uncomfortable feeling, leaving you with your heart pounding and beads of sweat on your forehead...
Much of the uncanniness we experience comes from a fear of losing control of something, so for example in Body Snatchers, the characters fight to maintain not only their bodies, but their individuality - what it is that makes them human at the end of the day.

It is a feeling that lurks just beneath the surface of everyday life, threatening to burst through and surround us all with paranoia. We embrace it where we can, as if by making it public, we can keep worse at bay. Take, for example, Big Brother... most of us, I'm sure, subconsciously fear being watched, spied on or stalked, and yet many millions go out of their way every day to sit down and do just that - the difference here being that the 'subjects' have opened themselves up to the voyeurism. So is it creepy to be a 'peeping-tom' or are we giving out the message that actually, there is a thrill to be had on both sides of the curtain...? (At this point, I will confess to never having seen Big Brother ! :) If you have not done so already, I would encourage you to read Raymond Carvers short story, ' The Idea' which deals with this will unwittingly become part of the story, as you watch the neighbours, watching the neighbour, who is also watching...