Opening the two programs compiled by film theorist and filmmaker Laura Mulvey, her films Riddles of the Sphinx (1978) and AMY! (1980), made together with Peter Wollen, will be presented. Riddles of the Sphinx was influenced by the context in which it was made: politically and aesthetically radical filmmaking in the UK in the 1970s. Its singularity, however, lies in its directors’ intention to make a theoretical film (using material drawn, for instance, from feminism and psychoanalysis). Laura Mulvey sums up their cinematic strategies: “The film was heterogeneous, made up of very different kinds of material that had to include found footage, direct address to camera and a foregrounding of medium specificity, also citing, for instance, visual arts and including music. But in terms of the film’s theoretical dimension, most significant was its questioning use of words and language, as image and voice, alongside storytelling and performance.” AMY! reflects on the question of heroines, through the story of British aviatrix, Amy Johnson’s epic flight to Australia in 1930 and her subsequent reconfiguration as a celebrity. The film uses similar avant-garde strategies to Riddles of the Sphinx and makes use of contemporary punk music by Poly Styrene and the X Ray Spex.
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, Riddles of the Sphinx, 1978, 90 min
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen, AMY!, 1980, 30 min
Presented by Laura Mulvey
Laura Mulvey is professor of film and media studies at Birkbeck College, University of London. She is the author of e.g. Visual and Other Pleasures (1989), Fetishism and Curiosity (1996), Death Twenty-four Times a Second: Stillness and the Moving Image (2006) and is renowned for her seminal essay Visual Pleasure in Narrative Cinema (1975). She made six films in collaboration with Peter Wollen in the 1970s/early 1980s and two, more recently, and with artist/filmmaker Mark Lewis.