The woman's perspective : representations of female desire in Nichol's The Graduate, Working Girls, and Closer

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O'Brien, Ciara
Issue Date
BA (Hons) in Film, Literature and Drama
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this Final Year Project is to show how director Mike Nichols documents the changing role of women in western society over three successive generations through representations of female desire in the films The Graduate, Working Girl and Closer. By placing these films within their historical context it intends to illustrate how the female characters in them undermine the dominant Hollywood representations of women within each period and thereby contribute to feminist discourse. First, by looking briefly at traditional representations of women in film and drawing comparisons with Nichols’s contemporaries it will examine the changing landscape and recurring themes of female characterisation in dominant cinema. Next, in looking at feminist film theory and practices it will examine their aims and intentions and the efficacy of a marginalised film practice versus the polysemy and widely circulated images and texts of mainstream cinema. Finally, in analysing the narratives of these films and looking at the cinematic grammar employed within them, it will address how they foreground, both textually and visually, conflicts for the characters which are representative of the internal and external conflicts for women regarding their desires and their perceived roles in society within each period. In particular, it will examine how female spectators can locate a gaze within the construction of the mise-en-scene of these films. In conclusion, by establishing continuity between these conflicts, it will illustrate how the move from the domestic sphere to the working world is reflected in the progression of agency for these characters resulting in increased subjectivity in representations of female desire.