Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Analysis of Pretty Woman



Pretty Woman - the quintessential rags to riches romance. This clip lends itself to a good "narrative analysis." In this type of analysis, the events are defined in terms of how they shape the story. Knowing that this movie is a romantic comedy (of sorts), one can reasonably assume based on prior knowledge, that there will be a happy ending. Any loose ends will be tied neatly in a bow at the end. The audience then uses "prototypical schema" to fill in gaps and predict outcomes. The archetypal narrative pattern in this movie falls in line with the stereotypical Cinderella story. The handsome prince and the princess fall in love and live happily ever after. There are certain cultural values being exhibited in this clip - money, power, love, success. It plays on the viewers own desire for love, leading many, especially impressionable adolescents and young adults, to strive for this unrealistic romantic relationship in their own lives. Mr. Right should look just like the handsome Richard Gere, have millions of dollars, and rescue you from an otherwise difficult life. This is a perfect time to talk about the "feminist analysis" - primarily the sexist portrayals of men and woman in film. Considering the fact that Julia Roberts is a prostitute, the movie presents the image of women as sex objects within a patriarchal society run by powerful men. Though the movie attempts to move beyond that image, asserting that a man can love a woman for more than her body, the ending still embodies a skewed version of reality. Richard Gere is portrayed as a hero for rescuing Julia Roberts from her life. Opera music, red roses, a fairytale ending. The cultural construction of the roles of men and woman are clearly defined in this clip, representing masculinity and femininity on opposite spectrums. Oh, I'm sure I could say a lot more... but I happen to like Richard Gere... a lot. He's one of my favorite Buddhists. :)

4 comments:

Maggie said...

I think it's interesting how you talk about the feminist lens and how Roberts' character is viewed as a sex object. Something that I still think about in this movie is the total absence of a "good" male character. For example, there are very few (if any) strong men in the movie. As a prostitute, most already despise her past "clients" (even though they're not really referenced) because Roberts' character is so likeable. Another example is the co-worker in the end, who attempts to rape her. And finally, Gere's character: to be honest, I never really saw him as an especially great person. I think the movie tries to show a very ugly portait, through Gere's character, of the upper class and what goes into so-called male success, wealth and power. I always think it's interesting how a feminist lens can skew the bias, and be emphasized, more in literature and movies by their male counterparts.

Maggie said...

Also! Something else I was thinking about, and forgot to add; since, as you say, the movie is based on Cinderella, what do you think about, and how does it impact the feminist view, the total lack of an evil step-mother/step-sisters characters?

Genevieve said...

I find it noteworthy that Julia Roberts used a body double for all of her nakedy close ups. I'm thinking specifically about the provocative "I'm getting dressed to go to work" shots at the very start of the movie-- the part where she's slipping on lingerie and pulling up stockings and zipping up boots and shimmying into her trademark "hooker" outfit: the pink halter top dealy that's attached to an itsy bitsy black mini skirt by way of a big, silver ring. And all the while, she's headless. It's just body parts and trashy clothes. Talk about objectifying...

This is my favorite scene from that movie.
(Just kidding. It's a Barbie and Ken reenactment.)

Kate said...

I always thought it was more Pygmalion than Cinderella, which would explain the lack of evil family members.