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24th of July, 21:45
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Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons
dir. Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen / UK 1974 / 99’
subtitles: Polish and English

Cast

Peter Wollen, Grace McKeaney (voice of Jessie Ashley); the mime troupe: Debra Dolansky, Michael Thomas, Jan Creighton, Jim Goode, Lisa Kephart, Pat Kerwin, Whit MacLaughlin, Kristine Nielsen, Brian Reich, Jerry Stropnicky, Ann Woodworth,

Film description

Throughout her career, Laura Mulvey has been intrigued by Greek culture and its mythical presentations of women. In Penthesilea: Queen of the Amazons (her first film, co-directed with Peter Wollen) she explores how the myth of the Amazon Queen can be retold as part of a forceful 1970s feminist polemic on the position of the ‘heroic’ woman within myth and feminist political struggle. Mulvey and Wollen made a film without editing, seeking to stretch Bazin’s concept of the long take to its limits. The film uses experimental anti-narrative formal devices including didactic monologues and complex collages of paintings, sculptures and comic strips to deconstruct and question both the myth of woman and the dominant cinematic modes that display her.  The first section consists of a mime, condensing into 20 minutes Kleist’s 1808 play Penthesilea. In the second, Wollen himself discusses the myth of the Amazon woman as an unobtainable ideal. In the last section, the previous sections appear on four video screens until the main actress from the mime removes her make-up and confronts and addresses the camera.

Lara Thompson 

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