Vampires & Violets: Unintended Lesbians… and Alien

Serendipity, when it strikes, just does. Which i guess is the nature of the woman and why i love her so much.

And so she has done again this weekend, with late night viewing of Prometheus, a serious comment from film critic and writer, Jennie Kermode about the arrival of strong women in cinema…and an afternoon of much film geekery with Eleanor, which eventually degenerated into discussion of lesbian imagery in film. Though not necessarily “that sort of imagery”.

Because if you want that sort of cheap exploitative lipstick lesbian stuff, then go and watch D.E.B.S, an upliftingly post-feminist tale of a bunch of beautiful, teenage spies, dressed, as they might be, in naughty schoolgirl outfits, whose leader (Sara Foster) falls secretly for villainous criminal leader, Jordana Brewster.

Nah: this post is defo not about that stuff…and just to illustrate the sort of thing with which we shall in future be having no truck here, let’s start by drawing down a couple of images from the film itself:

Ahem! So what is this REALLY about? Well, its not totally innocent. But it has a serious side, too…depending on how it develops, i’ll leave you, the reader, to decide whether this is really serious, or sexy, or somewhere in between.

Start point, today, was an aside from Jennie Kermode about how hard it is now to imagine the idea of a strong woman in film being exceptional…as hard as it is NOW to remember just how ground-breaking was the character of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver in the first “Alien” film, back in 1979. We’ve come a long way.

So, cue a lengthy, worthy post about the role of women in film and cinema? Hardly – espesh not when Eleanor was to hand and a good hour or two was spent discussing the relative (pin-up) merits of Sigourney Weaver, Barbara Streisand and Kate Mulgrew (aka Captain Kathryn Janeway of the Star Ship Enterprise). It was NOT an entirely academic debate – although given that we both know our filmology pretty well, it wasn’t entirely smutty either.

And the nod to “Vampires and Violets”, by Andrea Weiss? Well, that’s one of the first books seriously to examine the role and the significance of lesbian imagery – warts and all – in film. Published, according to Amazon, in 1995 – though i reckon they’re two years out and it was actually 1993.

I am going to try and maintain a V&V category for the future. In it, I will attempt to chart a course between serious and smutty: looking at issues of (lesbian) women in cinema, while simultaneously enlivening the plot with imagery. Rarely explicit, though. So if you’re looking for anything full-on and sexual, go away!

And on the weekend that Prometheus, the prequel to Alien, launches, let’s start with a few images to get us going.

First up is the original Ripley, as played by Sigourney Weaver:

Sigourney Weaver/Ripley in the original alien

Next up, the iconic strong Sigourney, coz Eleanor likes her:

Sigourney getting tough

And a slightly less in charge Sigourney, coz Andrea likes this sort of thing:

Sigourney under pressure

And finally, Sigourney explaining to Winona Rider just who is in charge. (I think ALL of us liked this one):

Sigourney has issues with robot Annalee Call (Winona Rider) in Alien Resurrection

Noomi Rapace, who following roles in Sherlock Holmes and The girl with the Dragon Tattoo, seems to be making a rather anemic attempt at filling Sigourney’s shoes in Alien prequel, Prometheus:

Noomi Rapace folloowing in Sigourney’s footsteps?

And finally, one ice-cold lady (Charlize Theron) who probably beats Noomi in the hard woman stakes:

The real ice maiden? Charlize Theron as the amoral Meredith Vickers in Prometheus

Oh, well,there you have it. Feel free to pitch in with views, comment and suggestion for future posts in the Vampires and Violets category.

I leave you with just two thoughts: is Ridley Scott’s affection for the character of Ridley a positive when it comes to the role of the strong woman in cinema? Or actually just a weird sort of inverse paternalism?

And does it fill you with horror to learn that he and Sigourney are discussing the possibility of an Alien V? I’m not sure i believe it possible…but who knows.

jane xx


2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Charlize Theron never really gets to do her thing in ‘Prometheus’; I felt, sadly, that she had been cast more for her looks than for her abilities. Rapace isn’t at her best but she does have her moments and one gets the feeling she could grow into the role. The film essentially had too many characters and none of them really had the room to develop that they needed. I’m afraid that I was quite distracted from the otherwise appealing women by the sexless but altogether more sympathetic David.

  2. 2

    segun said,

    I just saw Aliens again but i havent seen prometheus yet!

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