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Books: Laura Mulvey

Laura Mulvey Wybór tekstów Ed. Kamila Kuc and Lara Thompson

Laura Mulvey is one of the most famous modern film theorists. Her most famous text Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (1975) which combines psychoanalytical reflection over cinema with feminist reflection is part of the very canon of cinema theory thought (in the Polish language, it is included in Panorama współczesnej myśli filmowej, ed. Alicja Helman). Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema opened up a debate over a decade long provoking numerous commentaries and polemics and determining the area of disputes in film theory in the 1970s and 1980s. In Poland, Mulvey has remained rather unknown despite her extensive oeuvre which significantly extends beyond themes raised in that work.

Mulvey is a rare example of a theorist who has not restricted herself to status quo criticism but formulated and then tried to implement an aesthetic programme alternative to the criticized one such as that presented in Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (1974), Riddles of the Sphinx (1977, perhaps the best known film by Mulvey), AMY! (1980), Crystal Gazing (1982), Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti (1982) and The Bad Sister (all of them together with Peter Wollen) and Disgraced Monuments (1991, together with Mark Lewis).

The film works by Mulvey can in no way be separated from her theoretic activity, which makes her texts a necessary complement of each presentation of her cinematographic works. A selection of Mulvey’s texts is also responsible for a renewed interest in psychoanalytical thinking about cinema among Polish readers, triggered by the publication of Lacrimae rerum (2007) by Slavoj Žižek, The Real gaze by Todd McGowan (2008) and a premiere of the film The Pervert’s Guide to Cinema (2006) by Sophie Fiennes. The volume included texts by Mulvey from Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (Palgrave McMillan, 2009, first edition 1993), Fetishism and Curiosity (Indiana University Press, 1996) and Death 24x A Second (Reaktion Books, 2005).

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