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The immodest eye : liminality and the gaze in Joseph Strick’s The balcony Burns, John 1994

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THE IMMODEST EYE LIMINALITY AND THE GAZE IN JOSEPH STRICK’S THE BALCONY by JOHN BURNS B.A., The University of Toronto, 1989 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Theatre and Film) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA August 1994 © John Burns, 1994  In presenting this thesis in fulfillment partial of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted the head by department of my or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department of The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date—) j  Abstract  In this thesis, I discuss Joseph Strick’s 1 963 film adaptation of Jean Genet’s Le balcon. Like the play, The Balcony emphasizes illusion, masquerade, pretence, mirrors; my thesis echoes Genet’s language as it constructs a framework out of the extended metaphor of the mirror. Chapter one charts the film’s critical reception, dividing reviewers into those who judge the film’s artistic quality and those who move beyond such specifics towards the larger question of cinematic adaptation. These writers position themselves (a twoway mirror?) between film and audience. Chapter two follows up with a discussion of adaptation theory, as it relates to the film, especially to the opening scenes’ divergence from the theatrical ‘original.’ Here, the film itself functions as a mirror, distorting Genet. Chapter three settles more squarely on the film itself, using theories of the gaze to identify the true positions of power which operate behind the Balcony’s reflective facade.  III  TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract Table of Contents Acknowledgements  iv  Introduction  1  Chapter One  Critical Reception I Overview II The Film in Closeup III The Film in Mid-Shot IV The Film in Long Shot  7 7 9 17 22  Chapter Two  The Theories I Background II The Space of the Screen III The Locus Dramaticus IV Moving Inward: The Opening Shots V The Centre  24 24 29 31 39 43  Chapter Three  The Centrifugal Screen I The Blending of Judges and Thieves II Real Tears of Repentance Ill A Gaze of their Own  50 50 58 63  Bibliography I Reviews of The Balcony II Film and Film Theories Ill Strick, Genet and Peripheral Materials  71 71 72 74  I Joseph Strick II Ben Maddow  78 78 79  Appendix  iv Acknowledgements  This thesis has taken much time and many guises. Over the last year and a half, Denis Johnston and John Newton have offered great help and insight. My supervisor, Peter Loeffler, has contributed in equal measure painstaking rigour and a passion for theatre and film. Thank you all for giving the university a human face. Richard Sutherland, Beth Janzen, Kathy Chung and Peter Weiss deserve many thanks; you all graduated before me, proving that closure is still possible in a post modern world. My family has expanded in many directions over the course of this thesis and has given me much support and perspective. This project is a testament to your support. Catherine, you are my co-conspirator, though “I cannot heave my heart into my mouth” as much or as often as I’d like. Thank you. I dedicate this thesis to the memory of my father, John Davis Burns.  —  Introduction What about the lice? They’re there. 1 —  Like all adaptations, Joseph Strick’s film The Balcony includes elements of its source, but ultimately differs in significant ways from the original it adapts: it features scenes that Genet never wrote, and elides others that he did. One scene from Genet’s play which Strick omits offers an interesting companion to my interpretation of the film, and so I offer a brief discussion of scene four of Genet’s Le balcon as an introduction to the style and methods of my thesis. Scene four has only two lines (quoted at the beginning of this chapter) and two characters, yet it is one of the most visually powerful scenes of the play. The setting is one of the fantasy rooms in Madame Irma’s whorehouse where we watch the two characters  —  client and whore  —  construct new personae. Le balcon, like much of Genet’s  work, deals extensively with masquerade, pretence, the assuming and exchanging of roles and power. The man, though dressed as a tramp, is obviously not one and the stage directions emphasize that he is “dressed as a tramp though neatly combed” (Genet 24); he wipes his face with a handkerchief, puts his glasses in a case in his pocket, and offers the woman artificial flowers in such a way that we understand that the tramp is a role  Genet 25. All passages cited from The Balcony refer to Joseph Strick’s 1 963 film, unless page numbers follow. These latter textual citations refer to Frechtman’s English translation of Genet’s Lebalcon. I will distinguish between film (The Balcony) and play (Le balcon) by using the English or French title. I have made no attempt to provide lines’ position in the film, since there are no clear scene or act divisions, and counters vary from machine to machine. 1  2 which he plays, a role within a role, since the actor must play a man playing a tramp. The same is true of the woman, who moves from “looking very indifferent” to “an exaggeratedly lofty and cruel air” (Genet 24). These two actors are not alone on stage, however. Stage directions indicate the presence of four other actors: “all the gestures of the little old man are reflected in the three mirrors. (Three actors are needed to play the roles of the reflections)” and “through the opening [of the door] appear Irma’s hand and arm holding a whip and a very dirty and shaggy wig” (Genet 24). The three actors playing the man’s reflections occupy a curious space on the stage. Their presence is invisible as long as the spectators and performers accept them as reflections, yet they take up physical space on the stage and do not, in fact, perfectly reflect the tramp. They too are acting, and what they reflect distorts and twists his actions. They are not the inanimate surface of a mirror, but flesh-and-blood actors mimicking the gestures they see. They are implicated in the action emotionally (they share a connection with the character of the tramp whom they scrutinize) and physically (they share the performance space and gestures of the actor playing the tramp). They watch passively and react actively at the same time. The woman has no reflection in the mirrors; 2 she occupies a different space than the man; she is watched, but never mirrored. That the man is reflected in the mirrors and the woman remains invisible defies the logic of everyday things, and yet is a perfect  2  The character with no reflection is a powerful cultural trope and invariably denotes evil and a position outside dominant society. Fairy tales assert that witches and vampires exist without reflection: “[Count Dracula] was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in my mirror!” (Stoker 26)  3 metaphor for both play and film: the connection among the characters in scene four is visual, and the gaze which they exchange defines the physical space which they occupy; it has real presence on the stage  —  a presence embodied by the three actors mimicking the  man while ignoring the woman. In other words, as spectators we see two interrelated performance spaces: the one on stage in front of us, and the one whose boundaries are defined by the reflections of the mirrors. The first space features two characters linked by the gaze of desire (for the man) and response (for the woman); the second features only one, repeated by the watching (male) mirrors who look through the whore instead of at her. The final character, Irma, does not even have eyes, but rather appears metonymically as an arm holding a whip and a wig, symbols of the power and pretence fundamental to the exchanges between whores and their clients in film and play. My thesis is much like the room in which the man and woman appear. Like the scene, it emphasizes the number three (three mirrors, three reflecting actors, three knocks at the door) since there are three chapters. Each chapter functions like a mirror, reflecting back an element of the film. Yet, like the three mirrors in scene four, these reflections are not mere passive echoes of the originals they reproduce, but rather active re-interpretations. Just as the living mirrors in scene four function more as voyeurs than furniture, my thesis emphasizes the voyeurist positions which scholars, film audiences and characters occupy within The Balcony. In chapter one, I introduce The Balcony’ s reception since 1 963. While many critics, especially newspaper and magazine reviewers, write specifically on the merits and flaws of the film, many of their comments focus instead on the film’s role both  4  within their society and within the context of film criticism, film history and Western Art. Many of these commentators censure the film because its style is non-naturalistic. Their disappointment stems from the discrepancy between the society which the film reflects and society they expect to see, between the original play which the film re presents and the play they have seen or only heard about. In fact, they themselves act as mirrors, mediating between the original film and its potential spectators, replacing the viewer’s private experience of watching the film alone in the dark with their own publicly-expressed opinions. In this structure, I peep at the writers peeping at the film on behalf of peepers/audiences. Chapter two introduces some relevant film and adaptation theories in order to construct a framework for my approach to The Balcony. These theories constitute the second mirror, which reflects in turn the opening scenes of the film. The film itself is a voyeur in this case, peeping on the original play and offering its own skewed portrayal of what it sees. I concentrate on the beginning of the film because the first few scenes set the style of what will follow and establish some of the themes which I will explore in greater depth in chapter three. Like scene four of the play, the opening scenes of the film delimit the performance space (since we are brought, in stages, from the world of the spectators into the world of the action during those first few minutes of the film). They also define the positions of power which men and women occupy in the Balcony (positions also codified in scene four of Genet’s play) and hint at the film’s rejection of naturalism. Chapter three focuses on the relationships between the men who use the whorehouse, as clients and powermongers, and the whores of the Balcony. These  5  relationships often centre on a look, a glance, a gaze which reinforces male authority. The gaze functions as the third mirror of my thesis and I will present both gaze theory and examples from the film in the final chapter. The looks which men and women exchange or endure share with the whorehouse the illusion of a matriarchal ascendancy; both the Balcony and the prostitution sessions often seem dominated by women, governed by Madame Irma and Carmen. The end of the film reasserts patriarchal domination, however, as the two principal male characters transcend female intercession and share a final physical and political intimacy. The Balcony is a physical place as well as a film. It occupies space within the  history of film and film adaptation. It is the dark room within which each viewer watches voyeuristically the events on the screen. It is the physicalization of the looks which men and women exchange daily. It has the potential to disrupt everyday events happening in the world of its spectators, as when Madame Irma addresses the camera directly at the end and exhorts her audiences to see their lives in terms of the illusions they have just surreptitiously watched. Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment, editors of The Female Gaze, assert that art can physically affect society; they suggest optimistically that popular culture has the potential to effect real change in the physical world of its viewers: Popular culture is a site of struggle.... It is not enough to dismiss popular culture as merely serving the complementary systems of capitalism and patriarchy, peddling ‘false consciousness’ to the duped masses. It can also be seen as a site where meanings are contested and where dominant ideologies can be disturbed.  6 Between the market and the ideologues, the financiers and the producers, the directors and the actors, the publishers and the writers, capitalists and workers, women and men, heterosexual and homosexual, black and white, old and young  —  between what things mean, and how they mean, is a perpetual struggle for control. (Gamman and Marshment 1-2) Gamman and Marshment use the metaphor of a “site” to describe popular culture; they suggest that abstract ideas can occupy physical space and can, in fact, “disturb” the world around them. Such a reification of thought into matter is of prime importance in studying The Balcony for two reasons: within the film, reality and pretence, revolutionary thought and revolutionary deed, words and actions blend and intermingle constantly; beyond the fictional world of the film, The Balcony itself strives to subvert film conventions and audience expectations as its makers adapt a play by one of the twentieth century’s archetypal ‘bad boys’ into a Hollywood movie. Each of these processes depends on a physical and metaphorical manipulation of space. Just as a liminal study of The Balcony’ s centres and doorways, mirrors and means of communication yields a greater understanding of the film, attention to the disturbances caused by the fact of the film’s existence provides greater insight into whether The Balcony can create a “site where meanings are contested and where dominant ideologies can be disturbed” (Gamman and Marshment 4).  7  Chapter One: Critical Reception We must use language that magnifies: adulation, adoration, adumbration.  Overview Over thirty years have passed since director Joseph Strick and screenwriter Ben Maddow adapted Jean Genet’s Le balcon to the screen. Yet, since its appearance in 1963, their film has remained invisible to the sight of the academe: I have searched for critical writings on The Balcony, but have not so far been able to find any serious scholarly discussion of the film; studies seem limited to the newspaper and magazine reviews which were published in the relatively tiny window immediately following its release, between March and October 1963. Unlike other Strick adaptations (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, Tropic of Cancer), the only significant mark The Balcony seems to have made on mainstream society in the last three decades is the video version of 19891. Though the film was once considered so scandalous that its star, Shelley Winters, claimed that “some holy-roller magazine they quoted in the ads said, ‘unfit for exhibition to man, woman or child!’ 2 (Winters 484), the unexpurgated video version is now even available from the Vancouver Public Library. I am interested in analyzing The Balcony for two main reasons. The film deserves  1  Until that time, according to Shelley Winters, “The Balcony [was] not available in cassettes and I’ve never seen it on TV. I wish Joe Strick would rerelease it” (Winters 484) 2  magazine was The People. Quoted in Halliwell, 71.  8 greater critical study than it has heretofore received; though it was nominated for an Academy Award for best black and white cinematography, it receives no mention in film texts. I hope that this thesis may redress some of the lacunae currently existing in scholarly reception to The Balcony, since it is a fine film and an interesting reflection of what I understand to be Genet’s themes and concerns in La balcon. On a broader level, a study of the film provides a convenient springboard into a discussion of the process of adaptation and the layers of transformation to which artists subject works of art once they disconnect these works from their original context. Such a disconnection operates simultaneously and on many levels: Strick and Maddow alter Genet’s play as they create their own film version; time changes the spectrum of the viewers who might now participate in the watching and decoding of any 1 960s film, and this one in particular; I mould the shape of the film to my own ends as I focus on those aspects pertinent to my own watching experience and to my critical needs in this thesis. As I emphasized in the introduction, these layers of transformation operate in two directions simultaneously: artists decontextualize the originals they adapt even as these works of art subtly change the new contexts within which they find themselves. With an awareness of these eddies and disturbances in the flowing of play to film, I will try to chart some of the influences which adaptation has on film and theatre, and on The Balcony as play, movie, thesis. One final introductory caution: the model of adaptation which I will be describing depends on my own reading of the film and its relation to Genet’s original. And yet the specificity of an ‘original’ is evasive. Genet’s first published version of Lebalcon  9 contained 1 5 scenes; Edmund White, Genet’s most recent and most comprehensive biographer, claims that “Genet rewrote The Balcony constantly, almost obsessively; between 1955 and 1961 he published five different versions. In the opinion of the play’s editor, Marc Barbezat, he destroyed the script through his incessant revisions over a ten-year period” (White 41 7). Though the play was first ‘adapted’ from script to theatre by Peter Zadek at the Arts Club Theatre, London, Genet was outraged by Zadek’s interpretation. 3 Just as the Ideal Viewer gives way to a panoply of viewers, The Balcony is shorthand for a history of published and unpublished revisions, interpretations and evolutions which exist independently of their original author. The Balcony, then, is an umbrella which includes all published playscripts (in  all languages), all stage versions, all readings, all of Genet’s drafts and revised scripts. Just as I can claim only to chronicle my own experience of watching the film, offering it as one point in a multi-dimensional non-Cartesian discussion, I work outwards from a single script, after offering the caveat that I choose to use the English translation by Bernard Frechtman (Genet’s translator and literary agent) of Genet’s nine-scene published play, aligning myself with the film makers’ original intention, as evinced by the opening credits: “from the play by Jean Genet as translated by Bernard Frechtman.”  I I  The Film in Closeup  3  Genet was quoted in the News Chronicle (23 Apr. 1 957) as saying: “My play was set in a brothel of noble dimensions. Peter Zadek has put on the stage a brothel of petty dimensions” (quoted in White 418). See Zadek’s response also in the next day’s paper.  10  Most film reviewers comment on the performances of the actors, either in terms of their subjective acting abilities or in terms of what effect they bring to bear on the 4 For these critics, The Balcony exists in relation to all previous feature films of film. their acquaintance and their job is to contextualize The Balcony as one film among many. From our vantage point thirty years after the fact, we can add the perspective of increased context: it is ironic or revealing to observe the actors, knowing that since 1 963 some have gone on to bigger and better things even as others have fallen by the wayside. Lee Grant and Kent Smith are examples of these trends. Many viewers of 1 963, like many audiences today, would enjoy the extra-fictional resonances of the casting of Peter Falk as the Chief of Police. At the time of the film’s release, John Coleman of the NewStatesman described Falk as a “chumbling heavy.., hitherto a B-movie tough guy”;  today he is better known as Columbo (with whom his image has become inseparable) than as the star of Wim Wenders European art film Wings of Desire. Audience’s expectations seize onto such familiar information (‘where have I seen Falk before?’) as they work to understand what they perceive. Genet is very concerned with perception and illusion in The Balcony. From the first scene of the play, the characters we meet are “larger than life” (Genet 1, 9); the  “Winters seems very believably cast as the lesbian madame of such an establishment” (Films in Review 243); “the opening scenes follow Genet fairly closely, and well-controlled performances, particularly from Shelley Winters as Madame Irma, make them as slyly suggestive as anything in the original” (E.S. 1 68); “Lee Grant, as Carmen; Jeff Corey, as the gas-meter man; Kent Smith, as the milkman; and Peter Brocco, as the accountant, play their bizarre roles with the zest and conviction that I found wanting in Miss Winters, and Peter Falk, as the chief of police, gives a marvellous performance, which dominates and transforms the picture” (Gill 1 44). 4  11  executioner’s “whip has been slipped through the ioop of his belt, in back, so that he seems to have a tail” (Genet 9); the General “when he is completely dressed. ..will be seen to have taken on gigantic proportions, by means of trick effects: invisible footgear, broadened shoulders, excessive make-up” (Genet 20); in scene four, tramp and dominatrix assume their roles in front of our eyes. The film echoes the visual style of the play, emphasizing illusion and meta-illusion. As Isabel Quigly writes in The Spectatoc A film about illusion is almost a piece of self-portraiture, at least enough to involve all sorts of aesthetic, if not philosophical, jiggery-pokery. When the illusion is produced in a film studio  —  I mean when the setting of the film is a  studio.. .then the circularity of intention and result is enough to make your head spin. At one point in The Balcony a man finds himself reflected into infinity by the sort of looking-glass room in which everything mirrors everything else forever.., it is a salutary, exciting sort of bafflement eerily well aroused by one of the wittiest films for ages. (Quigly 529) The “aesthetic jiggery-pokery” which Quigly describes transcends the scene to which she refers and encompasses the performers’ acting styles, which draw censure from several of the critics. The “looking-glass room” Quigly describes accords with scene four’s mirrored session between tramp and whore. As I asserted in the introduction, film critics act themselves as mirrors, reflecting the value of the film in their own experiences and prejudices, for their readers to experience at second hand. Robin Bean goes so far as to assert that “The Balcony... is probably more suited to a film treatment  12  than to the stage: it is about illusion, which is the whole basis of cinema.” The repetitions of mirrors in mirrors is endless. Though film reviewers are quick to caution readers that Strick’s earlier films  —  Muscle Beach and The Savage Eye- are unconventional (Anby 6, Coleman) and that Genet  is a challenge to bourgeois culture (Films in Review, Maddocks, Johnson), they still manage to evince surprise at the non-naturalist quality of The Balcony; they express concern that Strick has produced a reflection of Genet that is not merely a passive re production of the original. Quigly’s “aesthetic jiggery-pokery” is the kindest interpretation of this type of charge. In spite of critics’ reluctance to accept the film’s style, The Balcony’ s manipulation of reality does echo the play’s exploration of pretence and illusion. According to Martin Esslin, “the audience [of the play] is left in no doubt that they are not meant to take any of the events they see as real. There are no characters in the conventional sense in The Balcony, merely the images of basic urges and impulses. Nor is there, strictly speaking, a plot” (Esslin 1 59). Such a rejection of naturalism is all very well in the theatre, yet the very medium of film demands, for many reviewers, that the actors portray traditional, consistent characters whose motivations and deliveries accord with the Hollywood norm. This is, after all, a Hollywood film, more transparent glass than fun-house mirror. Or is it? 5  Not only is the film made in Hollywood, it also uses as its set a Hollywood sound stage. Scenarist Ben Maddow asserts that “Hollywood is the best place to make movies.... And besides, we live here” (Unkefer). Yet many reviewers caution their readers that it is not a traditional Hollywood film: “Needless to say, it’s strictly an art entry, and attempts to sell it beyond that audience may trigger a certain amount of outrage” (Anby  13  Brendan Gill writes that “as Irma, Shelley Winters never succeeded in persuading me that she was anyone but Shelley Winters (Gill 144),” while Hollis Alpert complains, with some humour, that “under Mr. Strick’s direction the actors behave like a bunch of unruly individuals, each attempting to make his or her impression, and the hell with style or mood. Shelley Winters, as the brothel keeper, moves through the film as though in dire need of a vitamin shot.” These reviewers might also agree with Time that “too often Director Joseph Strick permits his performers to natter what they are intended to intone.” Many reviewers take exception to what they feel is either Winters’ woodenness (Hatch 431) or Strick’s inexperience with direction (Kauffmann 35). They seem to feel that Winters is the main character of the film, and as such she should offer more direct access for an audience into some sustained, and credible, fictional world. They reproach the actors for blurring the boundary between character and actor and reveal, in their criticisms, their distrust of any Verfremdungseffekt. In fact, these critics are writing against a breakdown of filmic conventions which is crucial to an understanding of The Balcony; they express disappointment that Strick did not offer a film version of Genet-turned-well-made play. These critics take their role as self-professed film critics seriously, and struggle to force a round movie into a square form. Though they reproach Strick for presenting his own distillation of Genet, they themselves offer their readers a very biased interpretation of what a film version of Le balcon should be. 6).  14  Some of these writers’ contemporaries understand the actors’ repudiation of naturalism in another light. With some disparagement, Tom Milne writes that “Strick’s direction seems to be limited to setting the camera up and letting the actors get on with it” while Quigly raves: the whole cast is extraordinarily appropriate and seems to be behaving with the psychological freedom that imaginative direction and this sort of (literal) gamesmanship together at times produce: not improvisation exactly, but truth out of a sort of careful mockery, a mockery of the varied faces and voice of truth’s first cousin twice removed  —  reality. (Quigly 530)  All of these critics are attempting to quantify the same effect: a sense in both play and film that the boundary between performer and character is permeable, unstable. While their explanations for such a complex interaction of illusion and “truth’s first cousin twice removed  —  reality” vary, their complaints converge on an uneasy suspicion that  naturalism has given way to disorder. Far from being the reviewer from the “holy-roller magazine they quoted in the ads” whom Winters mentions in her autobiography, William Mueller of The Christian Century provides a more considered understanding of fiction/fact than his more secular colleagues. In his (1 968) study of Genet and lonesco, he acknowledges that within Genet’s play, “the path between reality and appearance bears traffic in both directions” (Jacobsen and Mueller 1 56). Though he conflates playwright and film maker, he asserts that in the film one thing is clear. Genet regards his players as no more illusory than the people  15  they are playing to. At the end of the film Irma steps out of character what —  character?  —  and scornfully addresses the audience, telling us that we may now go  home, where we will find life even falser than that reflected in her brothel  —  falser, perhaps, only because we assume it to be real. And we are caught napping, for all along we had thought ourselves to be so much more in touch with reality than the characters on the screen. Not so, says M. Genet, calling us to serious meditation upon that which is. (Mueller 961) Mueller explicitly recognizes that the actors are treading that fine line between playing the fictional characters described in so many of the Balcony film reviews, on the one hand, and embodying the “images of basic urges and impulses” that Esslin identifies, on the other. In their latter role, the performers comment on the process of acting as much as they portray discrete characters. Mueller takes the identification of actor and spectator one step farther in his study of Genet: “We have not been witnessing the imaginary characters of a play. We have been gazing, with an innocence that bred our sense of superiority, into a mirror” (Jacobsen and Mueller 1 56). Like the tramp, we have looked into the eyes of another, only to realize that the other is only a reflection of ourselves. Shelley Winters, in volume two of her autobiography, discusses the style of acting which produces the interpenetration of actor and spectator: “since we went in and out of the script while we were shooting I was never sure of how to play a scene. Sometimes we were the characters in the film and sometimes we were real-life actors Ia theatre of the absurd” (Winters 487). Winters betrays the central tension in The  a  16 Balcony with her comment: the film attempts to blur reality and illusion constantly; this blurring brings into question the relationship between the fictional world and its viewers. The Balcony invites audiences into the fictional story of the whorehouse, but also encourages them to move outward from the film, to generalize about the nature of film and fiction by challenging their preconceptions about the position of the viewer in the unrolling of any story and of this particular story. It invites them to be voyeurs, then reminds them of their intrusion into the fictional world. In other words, each spectator must work to decide when the cast “were the characters in the film and [when they] were real-life actors.” Perhaps there is a certain note of outrage in some of the reviews because the reviewers find the dissolution of the filmic fourth wall disconcerting. While direct address is a staple of theatre, it is based on an agreement between performer and audience that goes back to the earliest hunting and fertility rituals: this is not reality and yet it bears on reality; we will suspend our disbelief. André Bazin, an early champion of the seriousness of film, describes this relationship: founded on the reciprocal awareness of those taking part and present to one another, it must be in contrast to the rest of the world in the same way that play and reality are opposed, or concern and indifference, or liturgy and the common use of things. Costume, mask, or make-up, the style of the language, the footlights, all contribute to this distinction, but the clearest sign of all is the stage, the architecture of which has varied from time to time without ever ceasing to make out a privileged spot actually or virtually distinct from nature.  17  (Bazin vol. 1, 104) I suspect that disquieted reviewers feel that film is free of such sacred space, that there need not be such a “reciprocal awareness.” When Winters shatters the illusion of distance at the end of the film, we are not only “caught napping,” but also caught out  —  believing that the space of the screen is the theatrical space “distinct from nature.” Yet the filmic space is distinct, unique to each film’s re-presentation of the world. In The Balcony, the first moments of the film draw its spectators into another world,  demarcated by the edges of the screen, surely, but also by the edges of the spectators’ experience of the world. The decoding of film is not however a passive reception, but, like theatre, an active interaction of actors, authors and spectators. The decoding of the filmic adaptation of a literary model is doubly active, since the equation also includes the original (the playscript in this case) and its satellite characters and readers.  Ill  The Film in Mid-Shot Many of The Balcony’ s reviewers focus on the relationship of the film to Genet’s  play. These writers, generally more self-confident and self-conscious than their plot précis/acting style colleagues, argue that Strick’s and Maddow’s treatment of the original themes and devices amplifies our understanding of some of the currents of meaning in the play. For them, The Balcony functions as a gloss of what they consider the original. Genet’s own encouraging attitude towards the film reassures those critics looking for an upholding of authorial intent  —  and in 1 963 many reviewers revered the  Author in a way that seems foreign to post-modern culture  —  that the film might  18 preserve or champion Genet’s artistic vision, but for a larger audience. 6 Sydney Johnson, writing in the Montreal Gazette, reassures readers that: the crudities of the original play have been removed, the language cleaned up and the whole play tightened and skilfully revised, but Genet’s theme and development have not only been left untouched but have been illuminated. This is a very intelligent and slick adaptation. The choice of the word “illuminated” is telling; though the screening of a film adaptation is literally the process of adding light to the medium (changed here from small page to smaller celluloid), Johnson’s double entendre is more revealing for its positioning of film and audience. He suggests that while Genet’s ideas are worthwhile, his way of expressing those ideas remains alienating or awkward. By cleaning up the language, Strick and Maddow have made a “slick” retelling of the story which emphasizes themes over crudity. Johnson stresses plot over expression and reassures readers of his review that Genet will not get in the way of his own play-now-film. The allure of comparing play and film is so overwhelming that critics even comment in spite of self-proclaimed ignorance: “As far as I can judge from a mere reading of the play (I missed it when it was at the Arts several years ago, but so apparently did Genet...), Mr. Strick and his writer, Ben Maddow, have been sensibly brisk with the cloudier speeches and scenes” (Coleman). Philip Hartung echoes Coleman’s sense of original and adaptation: “Since I didn’t see Jean Genet’s stage play on 6  For an account of the working relationship between Genet and Strick, and of Genet’s participation in the development of an early treatment for The Balcony, see White, 460-62.  19  which [The Balcony] is based, I am at a disadvantage, but I understand the screenplay by Ben Maddow simplifies the original and even omits much of the point of the whole thing.” Like Johnson, Hartung implies that the plot of the play transcends the play itself and belongs to all, even critics who are unfamiliar with the work. For him, the film can be divided simplistically into plot and images: “I’m not sure that Genet’s play should have been turned into a movie. The camera with its realistic eye is too brutal, and some of the scenes become more embarrassing than meaningful.” In Hartung’s naive opinion, the adaptation does the film audience a disservice by becoming somehow too much of a film, leaving Genet’s original, even if it is known only at second-hand, under-represented. And yet, some critics see a stronger connection between the spirit of Genet’s play and its film cousin. Gill asserts that: much of the success of the movie lies in the skill with which Mr. Strick and Mr. Maddow have preserved the spirit of the original by smashing its physical framework to bits, and I understand it was in large part M. Genet’s admiration for the boldness of Mr. Strick’s and Mr. Maddow’s intentions that led to his granting them permission to film ‘The Balcony,’ The result is far more faithful to M. Genet’s coarsely passionate whoop of rage against the human race than any mere scrupulously photographed play would have been. (Gill 143) All of these critics are grappling with an essential concern of film adaptation, a concern summed up in Gill’s expression: “any merely scrupulously photographed play.” The central question for these critics becomes ‘how faithfully does the adaptation convey the spirit and/or letter of the original?’  20 Whether the critics are concerned with the style of the original or the details of its plot, their concerns echo film theorist Janice Welsch’s belief that: adaptation delimits representation by insisting on the cultural status of the model, on its existence in the mode of the text or the already textualized. In the case of those texts which are explicitly termed “adaptations,” the cultural model which the cinema represents is already treasured as a representation in another sign system. (Welsch 9) In other words, any adaptation exists solely in relation to its model; any merits that the adaptation might have are only as strong as the original on which the adaptation is based. Generally, adaptation in this circumstance is valuable because it amplifies the original, established cultural model, reflecting a deserving but unknown original into a prismatic mirror for a wider audience. Film acts as a mega-advertisement for a neglected text. André Bazin comments on cinema’s debt to literature: When someone makes a film of Madame Bovary in Hollywood and the difference of aesthetic level between the work of Flaubert and the average American film being so great, the result is a standard American production that has only one thing wrong with it  —  that it is still called Madame Bova,y. And how can it be otherwise  when the literary work is brought face to face with the vast and powerful cinematographic industry: cinema is the great leveller. When, on the other hand, thanks to a happy combination of circumstances, the film-maker plans to treat the book as something different from a run-of-the-mill scenario, it is a little as if, at that moment, the whole of cinema is raised to the level of literature. (Bazin  21  vol. 1, 66) In this case, the value of The Balcony lies in its ability to bring many viewers into contact with a great work, even though Bazin would claim that the film must, by the nature of the medium, be of lesser worth than the original. Bazin’s argument introduces a certain chicken-and-egg circularity: does he mean to argue that literature is always aesthetically superior to film, or rather that Hollywood film makers can never hope to achieve the artistic levels of Flaubert? His comments imply a strange dynamic existing between film and literature: writers reach lofty heights and film makers, in their “great leveller” medium, attempt to bring them back down to the flatness of humanity. This seems an absurd generalization from one of film’s most loyal and arcanely-read supporters; Bazin’s argument echoes Quigly’s review of The Balcony itself. She claims that “a film about illusion is almost a piece of self-portraiture, at least enough to involve all sorts of aesthetic, if not philosophical, jiggery-pokery” (Quigly 529) and it is tempting to understand Bazin in a similar light: film theorists themselves intercede between film and its viewers as the mirrors intercede between the tramp and the audience of Le balcon’ s scene four. In other words, Bazin actively introduces himself into an otherwise private voyeuristic relationship between audience and film; he writes about his own role as film critic as much as he discusses the films on which his criticism is based; his comments on literature and film appear “almost as a piece of self-portraiture.” After panning the film, Monthly Film Bulletin ends its review with this consolation: “its saving grace is that it leads one to Genet” (E.S. 1 68). Again, the film  22 medium contains inherent value because no matter the quality of the film product, it borrows the status of its source if it works from a literary original. Film expands and exploits its roots; this sentiment echoes the words of Jeff Corey (the actor playing the Bishop): “we must use language that magnifies: adulation, adoration, adumbration.” IV  The Film in Long Shot Ultimately, however, many critics  review  —  —  and these constitute the third school of  dispatch summarily such comments on acting, lighting, and cuts to the script,  and use The Balcony as a point of departure for a more general discussion of the merits and dangers of the process of adaptation itself. Taken in conjunction with the play, they argue that we can study the film in terms of the process of transforming a work of art from one medium to another, and can delineate the additions and subtractions, amplifications and syntheses, required to fit a play into the rigorous and standardized confines of a mainstream motion picture. They contend that we must notice and record the changes made to the screenplay (those simplifications which so many reviewers have noted in Maddow’s writing) and go on to situate these changes within the relationship between Maddow’s revisions and the themes of both playscript and film: to consider the effect of simplification on the process of adaptation. While all three methods of evaluating a filmed adaptation (quality as a film, compared to other films; quality as an adaptation, compared to the original; quality as a work of art, compared to other films and to the original) can help an audience decide whether to invest 85 minutes into the  23 experience of watching The Balcony 7, perhaps the third critical model transcends most readily the intervening years between the film’s release and our time and coincides most closely with my own interests in this thesis. I would argue that any research into the contextual criticism of the film, such as what an audience thought of Nimoy’s performance in 1963 or what the sexual mores of that audience might have been, is interesting more for social historians than for film theorists. Consequently, I abandon such concerns for other scholars. Instead, I will consider the play playscript  —  and the film  —  in its form as video  —  —  in its form as  as two interdependent works of art  which can illuminate each other and also the process of making and participating in both theatre and film.  7 Paraphrased from William Mueller’s final encouragement to his readers: “The Balcony doesn’t have quite the force, the skill, the sustained emotional focus of a great motion picture, but it is well worth 85 minutes of your time” (Mueller 961).  24  Chapter Two: The Theories Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. 1  I  Background While there is little writing on The Balcony, libraries teem with studies of film  adaptation as both a process and a genre. Critics often agree about the nature and role of film adaptation, as their understandings and views evolve symbiotically over time, but the similarities in the form of their writing is most striking in light of the history of film adaptation theories: film theorists, like nature, seem to abhor a vacuum. Where there is ambiguity, many rush to collapse any equivocal proliferation of points of view into (preferably) one single narrative. This is especially true of those film theorists writing at the time of The Balcony’ s release. In his two-volume Essais sur Ia signification au cinema (1 968, 1 972), Christian Metz pioneered a system of film semiology which situated any moment of a film within a cartesian-style juncture of two axes. Each shot existed, he said, in relation to the continuum of shots that preceded and followed it and, at the same time, in opposition to all other possibilities for that shot. James Monaco, in his definitive introductory film text, sums up these axes succinctly: When our sense of the connotation of a specific shot depends on its having been chosen from a range of other possible shots, then we can say that this is, using  1  Yeats, 914.  25 the language of semiology, a paradigmatic connotation.... [when it] depends not on the shot compared with other potential shots, but rather on the shot compared with actual shots that precede or follow it, then we can speak of its syntagmatic connotation. (Monaco 131-32) Monaco goes on to assert, on behalf of Metz, that “these two axes of meaning the —  paradigmatic and the syntagmatic  —  have real value as tools for understanding what film  means” (Monaco 1 32). And, in fact, we have seen this assertion in action in chapter one, as film reviewers struggled to pass judgement on The Balcony’s paradigmatic (film as film) and syntagmatic (film as adaptation) value. Monaco and Metz each describes film semiology in terms of dichotomies: syntagma and paradigm, connotation and denotation; dichotomies figure strongly in much theoretical writing on film. Michael Klein, discussing the process of adaptation within another Joseph Strick movie  -  Portrait of the Artist asa Young Man (1977)  -  emphasizes more dichotomies: “the complex interaction of foreground and background, of discourse and containing discourse, mirrors the complex relations of experience which are the common subject of significant literature and film” (Klein 42). In addition to positing the centrality of the discourse/containing discourse division, Klein holds literature and film in contradistinction, and also distinguishes between significant and insignificant art. As I begin to attune myself to the language of the film theorists of the 1 960s and 1 970s, I run more and more into the words “dichotomy,” and its corollary “synthesis.” They appear often in Sergei Eisenstein, in Metz, and especially in André Bazin, whom  26 François Truffaut 2 called “a superb dialectician.... He would expose a dishonest argument by first taking over his adversary’s thesis, developing it better than had the man himself, and then demolishing it with rigorous logic” (Bazin vol. 2, vi). In fact, these two words  —  dialectic and synthesis  —  appear 41 times in the two volumes of What is  Cinema? Perhaps film invites this attention to binaries by its very mechanics. The process of synthesizing meaning out of a discontinuous image, of building the constant on-off of images into an intact visual experience through persistence of vision, encourages viewers to understand film information in terms of a thesis/antithesis split which required synthesis in the ‘modern’ 1 960s and 1 970s world of Metz, Bazin and others. But the context of the film audience has changed since Metz’s Film Language first appeared in English in 1 974. The post-modern approach no longer urges resolution or closure; like many scholars, I distrust simple contrast, anticipating hidden complexities of meaning. In his 1 980 study of film adaptation, Dudley Andrew widens the cartesian possibilities by introducing “several modes of relation between the film and the text which may obtain. These modes can, for convenience, be reduced to three: borrowing, intersection, and fidelity of transformation” (Andrew 1 0). I see his work as revising the syntagma/ paradigm of Metz in terms of a film adaptation’s role in society versus its  2  Truffaut’s opinion of The Balcony is less enthusiastic: “I recently saw The Balcony which is the most pathetic, ugly and badly produced film in the United States since the invention of the cinema. I’ll start by demanding that none of the crew who worked on The Balcony be involved in Fahrenheit! [1 966]” (Truffa Ut 232).  27 inherent consistency. Thus, syntagmatic connotation becomes “borrowing”: “the main concern is the generality of the original, its potential for wide and varied appeal, in short, its existence as a continuing form or archetype in culture” (Andrew 10-1 1). In other words, The Balcony exists in relation to all other possible interpretations of Genet’s play. The paradigmatic connotation focuses less on the coherence of the film than on the relationship between the film and its source; in “intersection”: “the uniqueness of the original text is preserved to such an extent that it is intentionally left unassimilated in adaptation” (Andrew 11). Perhaps Sydney Johnson alludes to such a relationship with his belief that “the whole play [has been] tightened and skilfully revised, but Genet’s theme and development have.., been left untouched.” In other words, Genet’s uniqueness lies not in his form but his content. However, “intersection” allows for wider reading than a simple transposition of the paradigm: it suggests that “the analyst. ..attend to the specificity of the original within the specificity of the cinema.” (Andrew 11-1 2). This is already a broader understanding of film adaptation than Welsch’s comments that “adaptation delimits representation by insisting on the cultural status of the model.” So far, I have been charting the evolution of the binary model of film analysis and the beginning of its dissolution. Of course, critical models are always tempting, but the idea of plotting a film’s significance on an X/Y graph, syntagma versus paradigm, holds little meaning in our unstable post-modern culture. It seems to me that Metz’s axes are two valid barometers, but only two of many, and that film analysis might result more realistically in a matrix of determining continua within which any film moment could  28 exist. A two-dimensional model suggests that if two people agree that, for example, a certain shot constitutes the climax of a film (its paradigmatic connotation), and that its camera angle, lighting, pacing, focus etc. result from certain decisions (the syntagmatic connotations), then they are seeing the same shot at the same point on the cartesian graph. They have the same understanding of that shot. But no two people share the same point of view, the same life experiences, even the same physiological mechanisms by which they might decode an image; the convergence of two viewers on one image is impossible. Just as literary studies are moving away from the Ideal Reader towards whom one Author directs one Text, film critics must move beyond the Ideal Viewer to accommodate an infinite range of possible viewers. This range amplifies Duality with a third axis which might be called experiential, in order to take into account the physiological and idiosyncratic perspective of each viewer. Two dimensions become three (and it is tempting to stop with three in order to stay in line with the three mirrors Genet sets up in scene four of Le balcon), but three could just as easily refract into four or four hundred potential  sites for each filmic moment to occupy. We can no longer understand film criticism in terms of, for example, the metaphor of a spider’s web-style information matrix which answers only the questions ‘what is it’ and ‘how is it;’ we must also ask ‘who sees it?’ We can no longer assume that The Viewer rests comfortably in the centre of the equation, the spider at the heart of its web.  29  I I  The Space of the Screen Bazin, in spite of his fondness for the dual, offers one resolution to the ever  constricting and -constraining move towards analytic closure inherent in the positioning of each shot on horizontal and vertical axes. In What is Cinema?, he writes: “in contrast to the stage, the space of the screen is centrifugal” (Bazin 1, 1 05). Perhaps, then, the movement is not towards one specific cartesian site, but rather away from any single point in time and space towards its margins. The spider no longer owns the web, can no longer wait in its centre for juicy prey to ‘come into my parlour’; each spider is a centre, wherever and whenever it is. The spider is the web; the spider is the parlour. In other words, our individual experiences of watching the film must ultimately eclipse any generalised reading we might try to lose ourselves within. When we sit in a darkened movie hail (or living room) and share the experience of watching Strick’s film, we are not all receiving the same visual information, or understanding what we see in the same way. Theories of film adaptation need to acknowledge that in translating a written text to the screen, the adaptor is engaging in a process which requires simultaneous decoding by an infinite possibility of viewers. The goal of adaptation then moves away from fidelity to the original script towards a conflation of the new film/text with a general received sense of the original. In order to judge The Balcony, I would argue that fidelity is not a sufficient barometer; Strick and Maddow’s film succeeds most when it evokes an ethos, a sensual memory I attribute to my own reading of Genet.  30 John Ellis describes this sense of adaptation in relation to the memory of the original: The assumed aim of the process of adaptation is the same, to reproduce the contents of the novel on the screen. Hence the habitual reaction of conventional criticism to a literary adaptation: a judgement as to whether the adaptation has kept faith with the novel.... The real aim of an adaptation is rather different. The adaptation trades upon the memory of the novel, a memory that can derive from actual reading, or, as is more likely with a classic of literature, a generally circulated cultural memory. The adaptation consumes this memory, aiming to efface it with the presence of its own images. The successful adaptation is one that is able to replace the memory of the novel with the process of a filmic or televisual representation (emphases mine). (Ellis 3) According to Ellis, our position in experiencing an adaptation moves from the general cultural milieu within which we all function towards a unique “filmic or televisual representation;” Strick and Maddow must subsume Genet. Perhaps that explains the shock I feel at the end of The Balcony when Roger does not castrate himself like his theatrical analog. The absence is most telling because the power of the end of the play is emotional, building on cultural archetypes of castration and cycles of death and rebirth. I cannot agree with Strick that “in the play the Chief of Police watches Roger (the would be Chief of Police) castrate himself. I felt that was unmotivated and told Genet so and insisted we not do it that way” (quoted in Bean). Stnck’s alternative, though interesting and rich in meaning, cannot efface one of Western society’s most visceral tropes.  31  I I I  The Locus Dramaticus When Bazin describes the centrifugal movement of the space of the screen, he is  referring specifically to the differences in the “locus dramaticus.” He argues that on the screen, the actor is only one element of the shot while in the theatre spectators and actors conspire to believe that illusion (painted sets, props, the space beyond the flies) does in fact exist: “The screen is not a frame like that of a picture but a mask which allows the action to be seen” (Bazin vol. 1, 1 05). His comment highlights the most pressing question facing film writers trying to situate a film within a set of theories which advocate finite closure and which have been disrupted by the post-modern explosion: what has become of the centre, around which Art has been understood to gravitate? Is the viewer the centre? Is the viewer objective? Is the centre of the shot its subject? Or, in Ellis’s terms, is the work really central at all, or is our understanding and memory of a film more important than the film itself? Who decides the answers to these questions? The Balcony resonates strongly with my own Western, post-modern culture,  since its concerns are congruent with my own. I ask myself who will accept the authority and centrality of the objective viewer, now that the notion of central authority is corrupt. Craig Owens, in his essay ‘The Discourse of Others: Feminists and Post modernism,’ describes the collapse of the centre in post-modern culture: “Decentred, allegorical, schizophrenic... however we choose to diagnose its symptoms, postmodernism is usually treated by its protagonists and antagonists alike, as a crisis of cultural  32 authority” (quoted in Young 1 86). The Balcony asks who can replace central authority once it has been displaced. As well, it challenges realism and the objectivity and memory of the viewer. The film, though the product of a more modern, optimistic age, emphasizes the roles of watcher and watched, centre and margins in a manner which I find familiar and contemporary to my own culture. The Balcony is a film about a revolution. Its content is therefore very amenable to such shifts in point of view, since revolutions seek to destabilize the status quo in their reorganizing of society. As the film builds a picture of a rebellion in progress, it relates to its viewers along what Metz would call a syntagmatic axis; I will add only that the movement of its plot is not towards one fixed sequence of shots that tell the story, but rather away from a concrete succession of images as these images interact with each individual viewer. At the same time, Strick’s is only one film adaptation of Genet’s play. Granted, it is the only version currently in existence, but it exists in relation to a (potentially) infinite number of competing versions. Beyond film adaptations of this one play, Genet’s works have found other adaptors. Fassbinder’s 1982 film of Querelle de Brest provides an interesting companion piece to The Balcony: “non seulement Fassbinder a-t-iI pris le par-ti de tourner son film entièrement en studio, mais, de surcroIt, il a souligné le cOté non-réaliste de l’histoire par une scénographie peinte, dont Ia qualite non-vraie est évidente.... Jusque dans les plus petits details, ce decor est une vision interprétée du monde” (Heed 248). Study of Genet and film offers circles within circles as adaptors struggle to bring Genet’s oft-repeated concerns to the screen.  33 As we move beyond Metz’s simplistic binaries, “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;! Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.” In his poem, Yeats was describing the ascension of evil, but naturalist drama might agree with him that the destabilizing of a centrally ontological objectivity is indeed the second coming of a “rough beast.” The critical mechanisms I have been describing cannot accommodate Genet’s inversion of what is morally and dramatically important, just as those newspaper reviewers I have quoted cannot identify with the meta-acting Winters describes in her autobiography. The Balcony, ultimately a play about the dissolution of social order (within the  fictional world) and dramatic order (outside the fictional world), revels in the disruption of ‘the centre’ from its initial depiction of revolution and posits one possible outcome of “mere anarchy.” Since Genet is writing about a world which has lost its political, moral, erotic centre, I will focus on the film’s use of ‘centre’ both within the fiction (Genet and Strick frequently use metaphors of centre, public!private, inside!outside) and as a means of commenting on the relationship between the spectators and such fiction. As the film emphasizes the locus dramaticus and the disruption of the centre, it creates the kind of “site of struggle” which Gamman and Marshment describe. The beginning of the film serves as a transition from the world of its viewers into the world of the film. The screen is black and our first entrance into the fiction is through sound. This is, in itself, destabilizing, since our assumption as film spectators is that the primary information we receive will be visual. Lorraine Gamman points out that critics share this assumption: Sound is a feature requiring consideration in theoretical terms. The soundtrack  34 has frequently been ignored by theorists like Christian Metz, who seems concerned only to divide up individual frames of film into visual ‘syntagms’ or other linguistic categories.... The soundtrack is obviously important... perhaps because television images are smaller and hence less overwhelming than those in the cinema. As John Ellis has pointed out, ‘TV demonstrates a displacement of the invocatory drive of scopophilia [the love of lookingj to the closest relation of the invocatory drives, that of Hearing.’ 3 (Gamman 21) Though The Balcony was originally released as a feature film within which image and sound would not have had the relationship characterized by Ellis, my comments derive from the video version, and my own experience of the film on a (relatively) tiny 14” TV supports Ellis’s assertion. I would add to Gamman’s and Ellis’s comments only that sound is a more elusive object of inquiry, since it yields less readily to division; we can study a single frame of film much more easily than a second, half second, quarter second, of sound which has the continuous quality of real-time experience. After the initial blackout, we hear gunfire and only then do we see the first image: a bomb exploding. Soon, these metonymies of sight and sound expand into a montage of crowds rushing through streets. Though we might be temporarily disoriented by the initial images and noises, unless we can recognize a face or geographical location, we soon put them in context. The people we see are, after all, familiar: we have probably seen thousands of them in historical documentaries and newsreels of war and revolution.  3  Gamman quotes from John Ellis’s Visible Fictions. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1 982: 1 37.  35 What we see, and hear, gives us the specifics of the situation while simultaneously freeing us from those same specifics. It is wartime, but an archetypal war of A against B, citizens against uniformed authority. The film avoids any precise positioning of the action. The only clue to our whereabouts is the Judge’s telling response to patriotism: “Patriotism, particularly in tropical countries like ours, spreads like a contagion. (emphasis mine)” This placing of The Balcony in tropical climes is Ben Maddow’s invention; the play is never so specific. Nor does Genet’s script specify that the action should take place on a Hollywood sound stage, and yet these decisions do not serve to reassure film viewers that they are part of a precise and positioned action. Like the montage of revolution, the setting, both inside and out, gives us enough information to satisfy the basic question ‘where are we’ without greatly amplifying the information provided by the original text. We do not need to know that the film is set in a tropical country, nor does the sound stage amplify the “circularity of intention” which Quigly attributes to it; Genet’s play already abounds in circularity. Edmund White describes Genet’s motivations in ignoring specific setting: “Genet’s dislike of local color and anecdote means that in The Balcony the setting and plot (two key elements in the bourgeois theatre) are abstract, even confusing, certainly not the centre of the focus” (White 41 5). Once again, our identification with a fictional world is incomplete as Genet, like Strick and Maddow, works to disrupt our suspension of disbelief. The transposition of action from script to screen has occasioned certain modifications of detail, but these changes do not flesh out the original words with  36 connotative visual material as other, more traditional, film adaptations might do. In his study of classic BBC serials such as Brideshead Revisited and Edward and Mrs. Simpson (against which The Balcony might be held as antithesis), Paul Kerr discusses the process of adapting traditional realist fiction to the screen: The crucial and oft-recurring concepts are those of fidelity and authenticity, and it is here that the role of mise en scene [sic] becomes clear. The former relates to the deployment, wherever possible, of direct quotations from the novel both of dialogue and of decor (settings, costumes etc). McCabe argues that the classic realist text naturalises the process of the production of meaning via the assumption of a familiar world of objects and attitudes shared by reader and text. In narrative prose, sitting rooms are simply described, but in classic serials props are employed specifically as signifiers of the past and its faithful and meticulous reconstruction. Such ambitions of authenticity function to factify the fiction, literally to prop it up, performing a positivist role as the tangible trace of a lost era. 4 (Kerr 1 3) Such is not the case with The Balcony. Though the film is made in Hollywood, it is not a “classic serial” and is not based on a “classic realist text.” And yet the quotation is instructive, since we are left in a visual world which is not propped up, not factified, not filled with reassuring amplifications of the author’s original intentions. The very fact that the film’s designers do not fill the whorehouse with loving, dated replicas of  4 Kerr paraphrases from Cohn McCabe’s “Realism and the Cinema: Notes on Some Brechtian Theses” in Screen 1 5:2 (Summer 1974): 7-2 7.  37 furniture mentioned in the original script emphasizes the isolation, the rift between the real world of the spectators and the other-worldliness (or non-worldliness) of the action. The locus dramaticus requires that the spectators supply their own life experiences in order to achieve physical solidity. We see, therefore, a generalised  —  even decontextualized  —  conflict at all levels:  unexpected massive explosions and smaller, mysteriously premeditated detonations of dynamite; anonymous crowd melees and one-on-one fisticuffs between strangers. Two police beat a man we do not know and a little later a division of riot police arrives on the scene. Do we welcome or fear them? What position do we occupy in this chaos? By coincidence, as I write this paragraph, riot police are responding to an outbreak of chaos and violence in the downtown of my own city. Rioters and police each injure by standers, no one knows who is guilty, who is more in control, no one trusts any one else. The newspapers distort facts and the events of The Balcony take on a more immediate urgency for me. I am in a state of complete ignorance and outside-ness in my own time and city; within the film, we are equally set apart from the events and people we witness so momentarily: we cannot even recognize Roger’s face in one of the final shots of the initial montage (since we have not yet met him), though his name will punctuate the remainder of the film. Just as suddenly as we have entered, we leave the outside world behind. The sounds of revolution fade as Madame Irma closes the door to the Balcony. The transition is complete and abrupt and we enter the body of the film, which is marked by a very different rhythm of editing and mise-en-scène. As Madame Irma slowly turns from the  38 door the boundary between the outside chaos and inside order we see, with her, the —  —  inside of the whorehouse. The architectural lines of that first interior shot are clear and clean, the image more tableau than dynamic: the women sit in two facing rows, converging in good lnigo Jones-style towards a central point to signify the great depth of the hall, which is the sound stage Quigly applauded in her review. Irma enters the frame from lower left to the accompaniment of Stravinsky’s score. The camera travels to the slower, more syncopated rhythm of the music, freed from the outside staccato of gunbursts. Stravinsky’s score brings us into the whorehouse by its content as well as its form. In Dialogues and a Diaiy, Stravinsky describes the ragtime from Histoire du Soldat, from which much of the film’s score is built: “I composed the Ragtime on the cimbalom, and the whole ensemble is grouped around the whorehouse piano sonority of that instrument” (Stravinsky 1 963, 88). The music then captures the two major atmospheres of Le balcon: the anxiety of war and the earthiness of the whorehouse. The story on which Stravinsky based Histoire du Soldat is one of a blurring of roles: I discovered my subject in one of Afanasiov’s tales of the soldier and the Devil. In the story that attracted me, the soldier tricks the Devil into drinking too much vodka. He then gives the Devil a handful of shot to eat, assuring him it is caviar, and the Devil greedily swallows it and dies.... My original idea was to transpose the period and style of our play to any time and 1 91 8 and to many nationalities and none. (Stravinsky 1962, 101) Within this story, many of The Balcony’s themes and plot devices already reside: the  39 inversion of moral authority; illusion and pretence; death; fantasy and luxury; a setting both specific and universal. Though the connection between Genet and Afanasiov is twiceremoved, the music in The Balcony contains the presence of both Afanasiov’s characters: “The characteristic sounds of Histoire are the scrape of the violins and the punctuation of the drums. The violin is the soldier’s soul and the drums are the diablerie” (Stravinsky 1962, 104).  IV  Moving Inward: The Opening Shots The opening shots have acted to disorient us and prepare us, by a kind of ritual,  for entry into this fictional world and, with Irma, we now run the gauntlet of prostitutes, penetrating deeper and deeper into the Balcony. The whorehouse provides an experience which is sexual in form, but not in content. Like the next scene between Bishop and whore, the first indoor scene emphasizes an erotic visual ambience, but without satisfaction. When the Bishop requests “if, ah, you could give me only five more minutes...for a carnal embrace,” the woman reminds him “but you never did want that.” The language is salacious, the imagery penetrative, but the transaction between whore and client is never copulative. As John Coleman observes in the NewStatesman: What with licked shoes, naughty lines about burning bushes and even sly visual jokes like the doxy who is twice observed playing with what the Americans call an erector set, this is the sort of artistic stuff popularly supposed to be dirty and deleterious; anything that begins to veer from the horizontal, heterosexual and wholesome norm of British love-play is, and the gap between our private and  40 public selves is reckoned as fixed and certifiable.... My X-certificate would have been awarded on the basis of its first few minutes, which toy with newsreel shots of real people crunched by real police truncheons. Coleman’s complaint is really one of context: the rioters in the original montage do not belong to the events of the Balcony; as spectators, we are intruding on their private war. He argues that the blending of private and public is key to the film’s restricted rating, though the British censors, and by extension the British public for whom the censors claim to act as moral authorities, recognize only the private sacredness of sex, not violence. While Coleman believes that spectators must honour the inviolable nature of someone else’s revolution, the censors are more reluctant to transmit widely or easily different images of private acts (sessions with a prostitute) in public space (both within the whorehouse, where people are never really alone, and within the moviehouse, where spectators sit alone and yet en masse). His comments have ultimately little to do with sex; his reservations regarding public and private centre on that violence which he separates from the violence of prostitution. He accepts that the whores are our visual chattel, we own the gaze because “you paid for it, didn’t you?” Sex is objectifiable, and so he does not cavil at the extreme brutality in the General’s speech: “A General, reprimanded by his horse? You’ll have the bit, the bridle, the saddle, and I, in boots and spurs, will whip and plunge.... Foam pink and spit fire, but what a gallop!” Coleman stops short of participating emotionally in the fictional story. He reminds his readers that the figures in the newsreel footage are “real” and that their private experiences and wars must not  41  be introduced into the public sight within a fictional context; the General’s prostitute, ‘unreal,’ endures public danger unquestioned. His comments suggest that he recommends a point of view situated solidly outside the world of The Balcony, that his gaze is fixed and one-way. From outside the film he witnesses and judges. He insists that The Balcony creates and occupies its own space, within which sex and violence play discrete roles; the boundary between his outside world of spectators and the inside world —  —  the Balcony  is inviolable. Coleman positions himself more as voyeur than as active participant in the  unrolling of the film. The key difference seems to be one of distance. Mary Ann Doane, in her discussion of the woman’s filmic gaze, paraphrases Christian Metz and agrees that the voyeur “must maintain a distance between himself and the image  —  the cinéphile  needs the gap which represents for him the very distance between desire and its object. In this sense, voyeurism is theorised as a type of meta-desire”S (Doane 78). Metz, in his article “The Imaginary Signifier,” goes on to conflate “voyeuristic desire, along with certain forms of sadism” (quoted in Doane 78). That Coleman can ignore the violence associated with the General’s spurs in favour of the violence suggested by the newsreel footage confirms Metz’s association of sadism and voyeurism. Coleman has separated himself from the inside world of the film, from the object of his gaze, and at the same time denies any emotional connection with the prostitute, eliding the violent nature of the sex he dismisses. He agrees with the Bishop’s whore that money sanctions  5  Doane paraphrases from Christian Metz’s “The Imaginary Signifier” in Screen 16:2 (Summer 1975): 61.  42  anything within the private space, that “you paid for it, didn’t you?” He has positioned himself outside the violence which exists inside the film and instead identifies with the violence which takes place outside the time and space of the fiction: real war. Though film and play share a sense of ritual, the film’s opening shots are in direct contrast to the beginning of Genet’s script, which commences not outdoors (since never in the play are the readers/audience allowed direct exit from the whorehouse) but rather inside, in a sort of play-within-a-play, as we witness the Bishop and the Penitent. Again, we might be disoriented as our initial image of the play is the undressing, literally and symbolically, of the Bishop; within the first few pages, we learn that the man who seemed so episcopal is as false as his trappings. Esslin describes the effect of the first moments of the play: “At the beginning, we have the ground pulled out from under our feet.... the man concerned is not a bishop but a gasman who has paid the madam for the satisfaction of indulging himself in his fantasies of sex and power” (Esslin 153-154). These two versions of the beginning sequence point to one of the fundamental differences between film and the written script: in film, we see immediately what kind of a world we enter, and the film maker must work to destabilize our instantaneous assumptions; we see the scenes of revolution, assume them to be the stuff of which the film is made, and then move away and into the whorehouse, where again we start to piece together a fictitious world from visual information. In the play, however, we must paint the scene ourselves, moving inward from language to action. Dudley Andrew describes this opposition:  43  Generally film is found to work from perception toward signification, from external facts to interior motivations and consequences, from the givenness of a world to the meaning of a story cut out of that world. Literary fiction works oppositely. It begins with signs, graphemes and words, building to propositions which attempt to develop perception. As a product of human language it naturally treats human motivation and values, seeking to throw them out into the external world, elaborating a world out of a story. (Andrew 1 2) Interestingly, Coleman’s comments accord better with Andrew’s description of literature than of film. Coleman witnesses the story, and elaborates a moral structure in his own world  —  —  from the images he has seen. Andrew suggests, by contrast, that the  act of watching a film moves in the opposite direction: we first accept the world we see on screen as real and then work to understand its inherent discrete moral structure. The Balcony imparts a centrifugal movement through its opening credit scene. As  we pass through the different layers of our own reality, past the recognized shared space that exists between our own memories of news footage and the cinematic form of newsreels and then finally enter into the brothel “cut out of that world,” we are following a centre-fleeing path. The same process repeats once we have entered the whorehouse. We pass from what we assume to be the world (as the camera lovingly details the activities of each of the prostitutes) to another story cut out from that world: the scenes between Bishop and Penitent, General and Horse, Judge and Thief. Our assumptions about what position we can occupy within the developing of the story are destabilized again and again, as the screen disrupts our sense of centre and perspective.  44  V  The Centre The movement from the outside to the inside is an abrupt and significant passage  in the unrolling of the plot. We pass from the turbulence of explicit warfare to the more illusory peace of the Balcony. The visual styles of those scenes reinforces the sense of transition from chaos to order. The opening scenes are frantic, relying more on the rhythm and juxtaposition of the scenes than on the specifics of what we see in each scene, or in how the images are presented within each shot. Montage overshadows mise-en scene. Eisenstein has many theories on film montage, but in his Film Form: Essays in Film Theory, he discusses the effect of one shot on its successors: The shot is by no means an element of montage. The shot is a montage celL Just as cells in their division form a phenomenon of another order, the organism or embryo, so, on the other side of the dialectical leap from the shot, there is montage. By what, then, is montage characterized and, consequently, its cell  —  the  shot? By collision. By the conflict of two pieces in opposition to each other. By conflict. By collision. (Elsenstein 37) He sums up these thoughts on the following page: “So, montage is conflict” (Eisenstein 38). What better way to impart a sense of revolutionary confrontation than through a clash of rapid cuts? The opening credits are characterized by a reliance on montage which both emphasizes the themes of instability and chaos and has the effect on the viewer of a discontinuous and colliding presentation of reality, a refusal to accord the viewer a central position within the fictional world.  45  At the same time, this attention to montage adds another level of meaning to the initial seconds of the film. Before the crowd scenes, we see the black screen with the sound of gunfire and then the image of a bomb exploding. Taken in the context of the scenes that follow, we can now detect a movement from an attention to mise-en-scène towards montage and then back to mise-en-scène once we pass through the doors of the Balcony (and the first interior shot with the prostitutes which is elegantly, if very conventionally, composed). The explosion serves, then, not only as a metonymy for the surrounding warfare, but also as a statement by the director on traditional film making. As we pass from that moment of black into the first image, we have a split second of landscape before the explosion occurs. There is silence after the sound of fire and then, abruptly, the almost idyllic countryside disappears in debris and dust. The intrusion is not just on the peaceful environment, however. The shot is built in the classic Hollywood style of the 1 930s and 1 940s, with strong lighting and the main characters (in this case, the landscape and then, in a beautiful two-shot, the ravaged land and the explosion) tightly held in the centre of the frame. By destroying the one instant of this conventional mise-en-scène at the beginning of the film, Strick is warning viewers that, though this is a Hollywood film, it will not be limited by mainstream film customs. We remember the critiques of Winters’ acting; if those writers had interpreted the initial shot in terms of its rejection of traditional Hollywood film making, perhaps they might have been more receptive to the style of acting Winters characterized as “theatre of the absurd.” In two senses, then, that shot explodes the myth of the centre, forcing both frame (since the debris moves from its position firmly  46 held within the centre of the frame beyond our sight) and expectations into the margins. Perhaps this Hollywood film can force the “space for disturbances of dominant meanings to occur in the mainstream” as Gamman and Marshment hope. As the credit scene unfolds, the importance of mise-en-scène all but disappears. The grouping of people and environment is less important than their conflict, as already discussed. The camera encourages this shift by allowing a much more open form than that of the opening explosion shot. James Monaco explains the difference between open and closed forms: If the image of the frame is self-sufficient, then we can speak of it as a “closed form.” Conversely, if the filmmaker has composed the shot in such a way that we are always subliminally aware of the area outside the frame, then the form is considered to be “open.” Open and closed forms are closely associated with the elements of movement in the frame. If the camera tends to follow the subject faithfully, the form tends to be closed; if, on the other hand, the filmmaker allows  —  even encourages the subject to leave the frame and reenter, the form —  is obviously open. (Monaco 1 51) As the credits roll by, the camera’s frame is completely open, capturing almost by chance the events taking place on the streets of Any City. People run in and out of view, conflicts we barely have time to decipher appear and then develop in new directions, beyond the camera’s sight. Strick is destabilizing our sense of the centre by refusing to allow the camera to dwell on sequential, logical visual developments. Our minds seek to make connections among the images, but the open form and pacing of those first shots  47  struggle actively to withhold a stable point of view, an eye of the storm, from us. Our efforts to pattern the images we see makes us aware of the process of forcing order on chaos even as Strick frustrates these efforts. In contrast, in the script of The Balcony, we learn about the outside world exclusively through the words of the characters. The frame of the play is completely closed and the point of view “self-sufficient,” since we cannot participate in any event which does not occupy the centre of our access to the fictional world, the page of text. When the Bishop says “I’ve been told that this house is going to be besieged? The rebels have already crossed the river” (Genet 2), we can only take his word for it; fighting insurgents could not “accidentally” move through the frame of the play as they might in those first minutes of the film version. The play, in direct contrast to the film, seems centripetal, as the characters offer us the outside world only through their own experience, bringing the outside in for us to perceive. The contrast is instructive. In the film, the open form allows characters and events to move into our view, to some small degree of their own free will; in the play, the narrative structure requires that characters or stage directions tell us actively what is outside our immediate view. Monaco describes this contrast in terms of whether the “camera tends to follow the subject faithfully” or whether “the filmmaker allows the subject to leave the frame and reenter.” What is inside the frame, for Monaco, is the subject of that shot and the key assumption, central to our understanding of centrifugal! centripetat, is that what occupies the middle of the frame is the centre of the shot, the scene, our experience of watching the film. And yet, is the subject of a shot really the  48 most visible element in the frame at any moment? In an open frame, this presents problems, since the subject is allowed to wander outside the confines of our sight; in an empty frame, what is the subject? We must rely on our own intuition and continuous drive to decode images; our own interpretation of the images becomes central in the absence of any other constant, central subject. People come and go, we are the only constant witness to the action, and therefore central. In Gamman’s discussion of the soundtrack, she quotes John Ellis, who characterizes two invocatory drives: those of sight (“scopophilia”) and hearing. Our scopophilic drive occupies the central position in the absence of image; our need to make something of nothing and to look, always finding an object for our gaze. The playscript offers a different constant, however: we learn about the world of the story through the story and stage directions, and so as we build information about the world we are becoming involved in, we are divesting more and more of our authority onto another ‘author’ for whom we suspend our disbelief, willingly. Though the opening moments of The Balcony have shed a certain amount of light on Bazin’s idea that “in contrast to the stage, the space of the screen is centrifugal,” its main value might more likely be its illumination on the notion of what exists at the centre of this “space of the screen.” Is the subject of a shot its centre, or does the centre exist independently of what exists around it? The montage at the beginning of The Balcony destabilizes many filmic conventions. Without a linear, continuous shot, we are left uncertain of most of the indices usually considered essential to decoding the image. Who records these images, and  49  whose point of view do they represent? How long does the action last? What is the exact relationship between each image and its successor? It seems, in The Balcony, as if what we see is from the vantage point of the entire crowd, that the point of view shifts among all the members of the conflict. This accords with Eisenstein’s comments about montage and conflict, since the images proceed continuously, following an inner logic based on conflict and not the “linkage” (Eisenstein 37) of a more causal context. If the point of view is manifold, then we are left without a sense of right and wrong. We cannot identify with any single person within the chaos, and so we must choose with whom to side based on our own life experiences. Even my understanding of the conflict as one between the people and their authorities is based in part on my own personal decoding of the montage: one could alternatively comprehend the confrontation in other terms. My own assumptions then seem to be most central in a deciphering of that scene, because they are the one constant in an otherwise completely open frame, and because they are the common denominator in my attempts to participate in each individual shot. I am the centre of the shot, around which the images flow; each spectator represents the sole moral authority available to each private viewing of the film.  50 Chapter Three: The Centrifugal Screen The cinema is an event seen through a keyhole. 1  The Blending of Judges and Thieves Genet is a moral playwright. His plays reek of a strong ethical prescription which is invariably an inversion of the dominant beliefs around him. Like his other plays, The Balcony proposes different occupants of the centre, each a straw man he constructs for the pleasure of its subsequent destruction. By imploding notions of authority, Genet struggles to convince his audience that the beliefs they cherish are bankrupt; he carefully demarcates the central position morality  —  —  promising to unveil a true  and presents emptiness with a flourish. In the scene between the Judge and  the Thief, Genet explodes judicial authority: I’m going to be judge of your acts! On me depends the weighing, the balance. The world is an apple. I cut it in two: the good, the bad.... In the depths of Hell I sort out the humans who venture there. Some to the flames, the others to the boredom of the fields of asphodel. (Genet 1 3) The Judge concludes that his own office exists only in relation to those he judges: “If I no longer had to divide the Good from the Evil, of what use would I be?” (Genet 1 6). There Incorrectly quoted in Bazin 1. The real quotation is, I assume, either “Freud was right when he said about Lesangd’unpoête that it was like peeping through a keyhole at a man who is undressing” (Cocteau 60) or “the cheap seats [in the theatre] do to some extent the job of the film camera, giving the audience some very curious viewpoints, as though they were indiscretely peeping through portholes, key-holes or trap-doors into cellars. I insist on the word ‘indiscreet’. The camera is the most indiscreet and most immodest eye in the world” (Cocteau 89). 1  51  is much irony in this scene, since the Judge is, in fact, a client of the brothel, and the language is hyperbolic, yet the corresponding scene in the film makes more concrete the central emptiness of Genet’s play. The Judge, now sole representative of both Law and Punishment in the absence of the Executioner, warns the Thief that: “the world is an apple which I cut with the knife of my intellect. Right to the right, wrong to the left. I am Solomon. I am Supreme Judge. You are the Supreme Criminal.” As he makes this speech, the camera moves from a midshot of the Judge, with a painting of the country’s Queen behind his left shoulder to a match cut of the Thief, also in mid-shot, with the shadow of a lamp over her left shoulder. The shot of the Judge is interesting because as he says “wrong to the left,” he points towards the Queen’s feet. Is the painting the “wrong to the left” because it is over his left shoulder or the “right to the right” because it is to the right of the screen? The answer depends on with whose point of view we choose to identify. Both Judge and Thief look up and right with their eyes during “my intellect. Right to” in rhapsody in the first case, irony in the second. The camera pulls back after the match cut to a two-shot for the rest of the speech, conflating once again both characters in the uncertain intersection of “right” and “wrong.” The establishment of right/left and right/wrong raises again the question of centrality. If the Judge is dividing humanity into two fields, be they for the flames or asphodel in the script, or to the left and right in the film, does the Judge occupy the central position between the two? Like Coleman, he considers himself to be objective, outside the world of actions perpetrated by those he judges. Again like Coleman, he is  52 able to select for violence which shocks (“And what were you going to do with the scarf? Who were you planning to strangle? Answer! Who? Are you a thief or a strangler?”) in favour of violence in sex, which he accepts as part of the paid-for sex (“I want blows and bruises and then tears. I want to see real tears of repentance. I want to touch them with the edge of my black robe.”) Clearly, the Judge is not objective; he is not even a real Judge; in the film, he is a public accountant by trade. An earlier scene has compromised the impermeability of the roles occupied by “visitors” and women, or “johnnies” and “chippies;” at the end of the session between the Bishop and the Penitent, the Bishop suggests that they exchange roles: “Here, let me change places with you. I’ll be the widow, and you be the priest. Let me confess to you.” The actor sinks to his knees before the woman, puts on her veil, and raises his eyes in supplication. The Thief also blurs the roles of client and prostitute and treats the Judge as a criminal by demanding that before a confession, he must bow down to her and lick her foot. She illustrates that his authority is corrupt and destabilizes his assumption of the central position. The Judge complies because he recognizes that his status depends entirely on her willingness to play her role, just as the watcher can only exist in terms of the thing watched. In the play, he admits that “my being a judge is an emanation of your being a thief. You need only refuse  —  but you’d better not!  what you are, therefore who you are  —  —  need only refuse to be who you are  —  for me to cease to be” (Genet 14). The film  performs the same function by visually associating the Judge and the Thief in the match cut, simultaneously compromising the Judge’s authority over the Thief and bringing into  53 question from whose point of view we witness the events in the chamber. The Judge’s speech is meant for the Thief, and for the Jury, but the Jury is made of twelve life-size cardboard cutouts, brought to life by camera tricks and murmured voice-overs. Yet, the Thief too is performing, again within the triangle of Judge-Thief-Jury, as the Judge makes clear: “Don’t face me, face the jury. Address them and speak up, speak up.” And when she raises her eyebrow in disgust, she acknowledges the presence of a film audience. This scene shares the refractive proliferation of watchers with scene four of the play since the two central characters in both scenes must watch each other constantly in order to keep in balance the fine equilibrium they have established; tramp and whore, Judge and Thief find themselves on a teeter-totter and each shift from one must elicit a neutralizing response from the other. The teeter-totter, to extend the metaphor, is made of mirrors. In scene four, tramp and whore execute a complicated dance within the confining gaze of the living mirrors surrounding them. In the film, the mirrors multiply, including Madame Irma who watches, the lens which records, the critics who report and the audience which peeps. The audience also occupies space in the teeter totter, balancing characters and mirrors, the fulcrum caught between shifting allegiances as the characters sway back and forth on the mirrored plane. In this scene between Thief and Judge, the mirrors are more metaphorical than physical: the Judge is reflected by the Thief (without whom he ceases to be); both perform for the Jury; all perform for the camera; the camera records for future audiences. The performance space is simultaneously as small as a Judge’s chamber and as  54 large as the intersection between sound stage and (potentially) all movie houses and living rooms. Within the play, the Judge seeks reassurance of their isolation: “Are all the doors firmly shut? Can anyone see us, or hear us?” (Genet 11). The Thief, in her selfconscious visual aside to the camera, refuses responsibility for a central point of view. She distributes the role of audience to each viewer of the film, implicating us all in the distribution of right and wrong. Instead of bringing us into the fiction by colluding on the efficacy of the fourth wall, as the Executioner does in the script when he reassures the Judge that “you needn’t worry. I bolted the door. (He goes to examine a huge bolt on the rear door.) And the corridor’s out of bounds” (Genet 11), she explodes the convention of collapsing audience into a single point of view just as the first image of the film explodes the convention of one static and closed camera frame. The Thief makes direct contact with the viewers, giving presence to the medium of the camera as the transparent connection between watcher and watched. Again, the position of the camera itself is not central, since it is only a means by which each viewer might make an individual connection with what he or she witnesses. Bazin intuits the centrifugal nature of the camera’s objectivity when he discusses the differences between painting and photography: Originality in photography as distinct from originality in painting lies in the essentially objective character of photography. For the first time, between the originating object and its reproduction there intervenes only the instrumentality of a nonliving agent. For the first time an image of the world is formed  55 automatically without the creative intervention of man. The personality of the photographer enters into the proceedings only in his selection of the object to be photographed and by way of the purpose he has in mind. (Bazin vol. 1, 1 3) Yet the camera’s lens is not transparent. Were it invisible, George Folsey would not have been nominated for best cinematography. And more compellingly, The Balcony would not succeed as a film adaptation of Genet. Genet’s manipulation of theatrical space is never subtle, and he relies on a selfconscious acknowledgement of theatre-as-theatre in order to make socially relevant his plays. Bazin’s remarks on the “creative intervention of man” bolster Strick’s own desire that “I’ve tried to maintain a kind of transparence, because I didn’t really care to be a public figure.... My films are the only expression that counts for any good” (Strick 52). Yet both desires are absurd; even the Lumière’s earliest films such as Leaving the Factory (1895) did more than capture reality automatically. Their choices of time and  place implicated them in the reality they immortalized. Strick too cannot seriously strive for invisibility (what Hollywood director and producer would?). The transparency that these men  —  Genet, Strick, Bazin, the Lumière brothers  —  are concerned with is political transparency. It is not the hand holding the camera that is suspect, but rather the will that directs that hand. Marina Warner, in her novel inspired by The Tempest, writes about photography’s claim to political transparency: Many of Miranda’s friends from her art student days had turned to photography: the lens’s clean surgical objectivity could excise the corrupt legacy of racism, imperialism, orientalism and the other -isms that turned all Western  56 consciousness into damaged goods. Or so they hoped. I can’t go along with this completely, thought Miranda. When I take a photograph it still comes out with my stamp on it. My limits show  —  if only it  were so easy to escape out of oneself. The so-called ‘authentic’ snapshot always pretends that the photographer didn’t have to be there, isn’t responsible, hadn’t anything to do with it. (Warner 320) The reader frequently reencounters the narrative voice in the choices it makes while telling the tale; the scene between Thief and Judge in the film version merely allows for a wider range of responsibility for the recording of the action. The setting and screenplay of The Balcony are full of references to watching. The whorehouse is riddled with cameras and viewing screens, mirrors and witnesses. These have strong antecedents in the play, as I have shown with scene four. The play script begins with stage directions describing the first tableau: “On the right wall, a mirror, with a carved gilt frame, reflects an unmade bed which, if the room were arranged logically, would be in the first rows of the orchestra” (Genet 1). The description emphasizes the frame of the mirror, situating two planes of activity simultaneously: we are aware of both the mirror’s physical space (it hangs on the right wall of the first scene’s room) and its reflected space (it shows the unmade bed in another room). Further, its reflection blurs the spaces of stage and house, since it claims visually to be reflecting a bed which logic dictates would occupy orchestra seats (or, alternatively, it claims that the orchestra seats are situated in Madame Irma’s bedroom). From the first stage directions, Genet warns his readers/spectators that we are  57  dealing with alternate logic, and that the boundaries between watcher and watched are shifting, unstable. We later discover that “Irma’s room...is the same room that was reflected in the mirrors in the first three scenes” (Genet 26). Our understanding of the physical space of the Balcony must shift to accommodate this new information. Irma is visually ever-present, constantly witnessing the events in her whorehouse. Though she claims that “even if it [the representation of the Chief of Police] were celebrated here, I wouldn’t see anything. The ceremonies are secret,” the Chief of Police counters “You liar. You’ve got secret peep-holes in every wall. Every partition, every mirror, is rigged. In one place, you can hear the sighs, in another the echo of the moans. You don’t need me to tell you that brothel tricks are mainly mirror tricks” (Genet 45). The Chief of Police’s comment is insightful. Though the script alludes directly to sex (never does the film repeat lines such as “He hymned me, fusing me with his beloved color, and when he carried me to the bed, it was into the blue that he penetrated” [Genet 35]), the whorehouse of the film elides all physical coupling. The Balcony is not a runof-the-mill brothel, but rather a panoply of mirror tricks, a “temple of illusions” according to Time. Irma asserts that “it was I who decided to call my establishment a house of illusions” (Genet 33). Not only does it seem not to promise traditional carnal fulfilment, but its whole structure, and the delights it offers, depends on a complex interaction of the real and fantasy worlds of its clients. Within the whorehouse, the “visitors” as Madame Irma insists they be called, are the spectators of their own fantasy worlds made real. The johns both participate inside the action, and spectate from safely outside, just as Sydney Johnson can watch the film and position himself  58 simultaneously outside its moral integrity.  I I  Real Tears of Repentance The Bishop, in his opening session with the penitent whore, asks: “and when my  gaze pierced your hazel eyes, your eyes the colour of alley cats, did I see the glimmer of repentance?” His language is sexual, penetrative, animal, and yet he cannot trust his own experience of the intimate moment just shared. Part of him, the watcher, is not sure of what he sees. The woman reassures him: “of course. You paid for it, didn’t you?” She reminds him that he is both Bishop and client/gasman and that his fee guarantees a satisfying intersection of his real and fantasy worlds. The relationship between these two (or three) characters is complex, but the woman ultimately placates his disquiet by emphasizing that he controls both the fantasy (he gets the repentance he wants as Bishop) and the reality (the gasman sees what he desires  —  the glimmer in her eyes, and  those alley-cat eyes themselves) because he has paid. After her line, she bends towards him and kisses his ring, symbolising acquiesence to his episcopal! financial authority. The gaze depends, mechanically and symbolically, on the eyes. The Bishop senses that the power he exercises over the prostitute is related to the dominance of his vision: “when my gaze pierced your hazel eyes, your eyes the colour of alley cats.” The language is violent and feral, controlling and yet surprisingly lyrical. As he commands the woman, he commands the language and register of their interaction. The Judge, also uses eyes to express his control over his whore: “I want to see real tears gush from your lovely eyes. I want to be drenched in them.” Again, visual intercourse supplants physical  59 interaction, and the exchange of tears replaces the exchange of other body fluids. As well, he seeks to control her eyes, her vision, her self and (re)presentation by demanding that she cry “real tears.” The Judge and Bishop both associate eyes with female qualities. The Bishop wants feline eyes, glimmering with repentance, while the Judge wants tears, “real tears of repentance” from her “lovely eyes.” The Judge later describes a different kind of crying as the three dignitaries travel through the wreckage of the Chief of Police’s bomb. His comment, in addition to providing circumstantial information about the film’s setting, emphasizes the polarity of male/female “to-be-looked-at-ness” (Mulvey 11): “Patriotism, particularly in tropical countries like ours, spreads like a contagion. It clouds the brain, brings tears to the eyes. It makes a man’s heart beat like a machine gun.” The imagery is male and martial. There is no question that the “tears to the eyes” are not the same as those the Judge pays the prostitute in order to see. These tears signal the weakening of a man’s optimum physical condition: he is confused and clouded, weepy, over-excited. In his moving towards the traditionally female characteristic of crying, he is compromised; femininity, with its attendant sex roles, “spreads like a contagion.” In contrast, a true man’s eyes are clear, dry, open. They can face any enemy, any situation. When the Chief of Police prepares to execute the General, the latter exhorts him: “I want to die in this uniform. I urge you to kill me. No, please’ No bandage over my eyes. Just give me a lit cigar between my lips and pull the trigger. Shoot! Shoot!” Apart from the obvious phallic references, his demands create a very different visual image from that of the prostitutes. Even as he faces down death, he wants to be in control of the  60  gaze, to be active in the process of seeing. To be deprived of sight is to lose dominance because the men define their purview by their view. The Balcony is filled with scenes in which characters struggle to maintain or subvert dominance and control by asserting their own power of sight or by  appropriating others’. The men in the whorehouse pay to control the gaze just as we spectators pay to control our own gaze at the characters/actors. As Mulvey asserts: Conditions of screening and narrative conventions give the spectator an illusion of looking in on a private world. Among other things, the position of the spectators in the cinema is blatantly one of repression of their exhibitionism and projection of the repressed desire on to the performer. (Mulvey 9) At the same time, the visitors’ private sessions are not in any way private. The johns are never alone, by definition, since they pay for the company of women. At the same time, technology relays their intimacies to a central office where several characters watch. This relationship between boudoir and office also has the extrafictional analog: we watch Madame Irma, watching her visitors, watching themselves. Genet encourages us to see the connections between life inside the Balcony and our own lives in his parting shot: “You can all go home now. To your own homes, your own beds. Where you can be sure everything will be even falser than it is here.” Again, the performance space operates simultaneously within the fiction and beyond it. Genet disrupts our assumptions about our solid central position as viewers outside the action, as voyeurs. We are still the audience, receiving Irma’s! Winter’s words, but we are no longer free to assume that the boundary between reality and fiction  61 is impermeable. We may be watching the characters, but the characters are watching back. Like the visitors to the whorehouse, we are not in fact impervious to the look of the other. The other knows us, our desires, our secrets, even our “repressions of. ..exhibitionism.” For the men in the Balcony can only enjoy the subjugation of the women’s eyes if these same eyes are in view, are looking back at them. At the same time, we can only experience a frisson at the end of the film when Winters breaks the convention of the lens as fourth wall if we accept that a character/actor can talk to us in our own time. If we are aware of the distance between spectator and performer too much, the illusion of connection is gone, and the personal, direct address is lost. Winter’s speech is important for a second reason as well. She makes a clear distinction between the viewers’ homes and their beds, as does Madame Irma in the play. The emphasis on beds is important, because The Balcony is ultimately concerned with sex, even if sex is merely a metaphor, a dislocated site of struggle for the true concerns of both play and film. Genet himself writes that the play “has as its object the mythology of the whorehouse. A Police Chief.. .struggles so that his own character will finally, through an exquisite act of grace, haunt the erotic daydreams and that he will thereby become a hero in the mythology of the whorehouse” (quoted in White 41 5). Though we never witness nudity or physical/sexual intermingling of any kind, we must remember that the events we see transpire in a whorehouse, that Carmen is right to insist that the people are “chippies” and “johnnies.” The sexual dynamic in The Balcony is that of men looking at women, and requiring that the women look back surreptitiously. This has roots in scene four of Le balcon, in  62 which the men’s sight is active and both tramp and male mirrors act in concert while the woman cannot share their private gaze. It is clear too in the first three scenes between the visitors and their whores. As each man becomes involved in his fantasy world, the fiction he creates with the help of his prostitute overcomes the present reality of the room he occupies and the company around him. For the Bishop, Judge and General, at the height of their passionate involvement in the creation of alternate fictional worlds, they turn their heads away, close their eyes or otherwise break eye contact with their women. In each of the three scenes, the man eventually reaches an iconic moment when he stands above the woman, his eyes raised over her head, his mind elsewhere, while she gazes up at him, audience to his pretence. Without her responsive gaze, his fictional world would go unacknowledged, and his fulfilment (a visually clear sublimation of sexual ecstasy in each case) unrealised. White echoes this theme of looking in his discussion of The Balcony: People, as the Bishop realizes, exist either because of what they are or what they do. What they are is given back by mirrors: thousands of reflections eventually  compose, in a mosaic-like fashion, the self. Opposed to the anti-social narcissism of the mirror is the necessarily social intermediary of reciprocal roles. To be is to be perceived in reciprocal roles by an observer.... Reciprocity and Imitation are the principles that guarantee existence. (White 41 6) Like the tramp in scene four, both the Bishop and Judge recognize this need for a returned gaze when they hand over power (temporarily) to their women. As the Bishop enacts  —  imitates the widow and as the Judge crawls towards the Thief, each fixes his —  63 gaze on the woman while she avoids connecting with his gaze. The men have put themselves in inferior positions by assuming the female, and accept the need to offer a gaze that will not be returned, to be witness to another’s independence.  I I I  A Gaze of their Own And yet, one relationship within the film seems to transcend the involvement of  men altogether. Though their relationship is never made explicit, Madame Irma and Carmen clearly enjoy an intimacy somewhere along a lesbian continuum. In Genet’s script, Irma reassures Carmen “you’re not only the purest jewel of all my girls, you’re the one on whom I bestow all my tenderness. You realize that I can do that only in secret, because of Arthur” (Genet 35). Their relationship must be conducted beyond male witness, in secret, just as in the film their kiss takes place apart from the other characters. And yet, within both film and theatre, there is no real solitude, since each character performs for its audience. Does the look between Irma and Carmen allow for an active female viewer within a space (the brothel) designed to privilege the male gaze? In a context which encourages men to pay for the power of the gaze, can two women retire into secrecy to fulfil their own quiet rebellious look? Can female spectators identify with these two characters, and find a moment within the film which encourages them to look actively at a female character in control? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, then The Balcony fulfils the site of struggle which Gamman and Marshment describe. Jackie Stacey delimits three possible lesbian looks in her essay “Desperately Seeking Difference:”  64  In approaching the question of ‘the lesbian look’ or ‘the lesbian spectator’ in popular cinema, three possibilities present themselves.... The first concerns the look in lesbian narrative films; the second analyses lesbian spectators’ readings of mainstream films not concerned with lesbianism; and the third examines the pleasure of looking between women in narrative cinema available to all women in the audience. (Stacey 11 3) The gaze in The Balcony clearly does not belong to the first group, and my thesis does not belong to the second, though a lesbian reading of the film would be of great interest and value. The third possibility seems most fruitful in this context and relies on an understanding of why female spectators gain pleasure from looking at women on screen. Mary Ann Doane describes the female gaze: For the female spectator there is a certain over-presence of the image  —  she is  the image. Given the closeness of this relationship, the female spectator’s desire can be described only in terms of a kind of narcissism  —  the female look demands  a becoming. It thus appears to negate the very distance or gap specified by Metz and Burch as the essential precondition for voyeurism. (Doane 78) To celebrate the lesbian look in this moment, the female spectator must identify with what she sees, and make a direct connection with the female character(s), reducing the gap between watcher and watched, and freeing the gaze of male authority. And yet, the film version of the Irma/Carmen kiss, the signifier of their lesbian relationship, was orchestrated by a man, the director. In her autobiography, Winters describes the circumstances:  65 After we had done the scene twice and Mr. Strick had printed a take he drew me aside and whispered, ‘This time, I want you to give Lee [Grant, playing Carmen] one of the earrings. Say some of the dialogue, give her a big passionate kiss, give her the other earring, smile and then go answer the door.’ I looked at him askance. I couldn’t believe he was serious. But he was. I asked him, ‘Shouldn’t you tell Lee what I’m going to do?’ He whispered back, ‘No, no. I want her surprise reaction on film. After all, there are many clients and fascist policemen sitting around this brothel waiting room.’ (Winters 487) Strick controls the look of the film, deciding on which take to print, and even on the looks inscribed on the faces of his actors, plotting to capture “her surprise reaction on film.” And yet, this moment in the film reduces male spectatorship, taking advantage of the absence of men within the room to feature a lesbian kiss, just as Strick takes advantage of Grant’s absence to plot the scene with Winters. This is not a lesbian moment at all. Just as straight male pornography frequently trades on ‘lesbian’ scenes for male consumers  —  —  more accurately, combinations of naked women performing  the kiss scene in The Balcony depends entirely on the male gaze to  decode it appropriately. Ultimately, Irma and Carmen relate not directly, but through male intercessors. In the film, Irma’s final words to Carmen before the kiss bear witness to the male point in their triangle: “I love him. As much, or as little, as I love you,” though she tells the Chief of Police that “what I feel for you, George, is a sort of stupid affection.” The women’s final speeches together centre on their lovers or love  66 interests. Carmen prepares Irma’s bedroom for the Chief of Police’s arrival and enthuses “he’s magnificent, isn’t he?” and Irma responds “you can have him when I’m done, honey.” Similarly, when Roger arrives, Carmen begs Irma to be allowed a session with him: “all I want is an hour off to wear one of my old costumes.” The arrival of the men supplants the lesbian relationship to which Irma and Carmen have physically alluded. When Carmen appears to Roger, we see another match cut, though less directly mappable than the Judge/Thief scene, moving from the kiss between Roger (left) embracing Carmen (right) to the Chief of Police (left) standing next to Irma (right). Both men wear the Chief’s uniform and the Chief comments ambiguously, while watching the young couple kiss, “what the hell is the matter with him? He’s disgracing the uniform.” But is Roger disgracing the uniform because his mind should be on matters of state, or is he disgracing it because he chooses to close his eyes, to avert his male gaze and interact physically, emotionally with a woman, as no other man has done within the film? The answer depends on the allegiance of the Chief of Police to his state. Throughout the film, both he and Irma appear to use each other for political reasons: he protects her business  (a Ia  Best Little Whorehouse in Texas) and she offers him a venue  for immortality (though no one has yet chosen the tableau of Chief of Police). Though they are lovers, their coupling seems more convenient and symbolic than motivated by love. Irma feels for George “a stupid sort of affection.” George’s and Roger’s relations with women point out a final difference between them as Roger chooses the whore  —  67 Victory (Carmen)  —  over his own role as mock Chief of Police. In fact, George interrupts  their session just before Carmen can strip Roger  —  literally and symbolically  —  of his  uniform. Once again, the film stops short of the play’s final castration, asserting instead the possibility that Roger could find (political and sexual) satisfaction out of his uniform. The relationship between Roger and George takes on a position of central importance at the end of the film as they collapse into one character: they share the Chief of Police’s uniform; their names are very similar; their women are depicted as lesbian and thereby strongly identified with each other. When Roger laments that “we should have joined forces long ago,” the hero responds with a succinct “we have.” This ending realizes Roger’s fear in the play that “if we behave like those on the other side, then we  are the other side. Instead of changing the world, all we’ll achieve is a reflection of the one we want to destroy” (Genet 56). When the whores finally do strip them, the two men share a moment of male bonding, and a sexually provocative glance down the front of Roger’s turkish towel. The men are not threatened by their state of undress since, as Doane observes: Male transvestism is an occasion for laughter; female transvestism only another occasion for desire. Thus, while the male is locked into sexual identity, the female can at least pretend that she is other  —  in fact, sexual mobility would seem  to be a distinguishing feature of femininity in its cultural construction.... The idea seems to be this: it is understandable that women would want to be men, for everyone wants to be elsewhere than in the female position. (Doane 81)  68 The Balcony presents a world of women run by a woman. Yet the Balcony is not in reality  a matriarchal utopia. The whorehouse is structured by the male gaze, and no relationship can support an equality, a looking and looking back, for long. The mirrors in the film are as one-way as in scene four of the play. Both the brothel, and the revolution transpiring outside its walls, require subjugation of the weak for the pleasure of the powerful. The powerless can borrow the trappings of the powerful “to be elsewhere than in the female position,” but only until the time (and money) runs out. The film does not disrupt this positioning along a continuum of power until its final moments. The passive whores have followed the orders of their madame and stripped the two men who hold real power in their fictional society, thereby appropriating the male gaze as they “strip them down to the skin” despite the Chief of Police’s cry that “they’re killing me!” The women’s action is a reversal of the expectations we have learned throughout most of the movie, and the final stripping of the men occasions the laughter Doane describes as the whores turn the house of illusion into a “fool’s paradise” with an alternate logic which does, metaphorically, kill the Chief, just as the Judge worried that “If I no longer had to divide the Good from the Evil, of what use would I be?” The Balcony ends with Irma’s direct address to the audience, the first time a  woman relates directly to the camera (the Thief’s aside is an indirect glance caught by the lens). The revolution has completed a cycle, since as the Chief of Police and Roger leave the Balcony, warfare begins again to the sound of gunfire. The return at the end of the film to the beginning of events encourages us to see The Balcony in absurd terms: the  69 action, enclosed within the frame of the film, is endlessly repetitive in the tradition of Beckett, lonesco, Havel. White questions the relationship between the world of the fiction and that of its spectators: Is there any difference between reality and its theatrical representation? If reality itself is theatrical, then a play about reality is in no way an arbitrary or simplified version of it. In fact a play may be the best way to expose the dangerous aspects of the theatricality of everyday life. (White 423-24) The cinematography during Irma’s speech is revealing. She occupies the centre of the frame and looks directly at the camera. Her eyes are lit by a horizontal band of light, emphasizing both her visual connection with those who watch and the static nature of her final gaze. This gaze demands a new relationship between spectator and performer, and offers some reversal of the unequal looks between men and women. In The Female Gaze, Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment paraphrase Mulvey: Visual pleasure in mainstream Hollywood cinema derives from and reproduces a structure of male looking! female to-be-looked-at-ness (whereby the spectator is invited to identify with a male gaze at an objectified female) which replicates the structure of unequal power relations between men and women. This pleasure, she concludes, must be disrupted in order to facilitate a feminist cinema. (Gamman and Marshment 5) Though The Balcony is no feminist film (as its final scene asserts), Irma’s gaze dominates the frame which ends the film and offers us exit from the cycle of the fictional world. The frame is not complete, since the beginning montage  —  companion to the final  70 speech  —  is structured within conflict and violence, but Irma’s speech is a disturbing  exit. Our hopes that the revolution might change society cannot survive; in joining forces with George, Roger replaces his utopia with “a reflection of the [world] we want to destroy.” Rather than promising us escape from the world of the film, Irma’s comments suggest rather that the world of the film includes the ‘real’ world of the audience. The “site where meanings are contested and where dominant ideologies can be disturbed” (Gamman and Marshment 4) is not inside the film but inside each spectator. Only by taking responsibility as the centres of our own worlds can we finally, truly jump off the balcony and escape.  71  Bibliography  Reviews of The Balcony  Alpert, Hollis. “Cinema of the Absurd.” Saturday Review 30 Mar. 1 963: 34. Anby. “The Balcony.” Variety 20 Mar. 1 963: 6, 1 8. “The Balcony.” Films in Review 14:4 (Apr. 1 963): 243. “The Balcony.” The Motion Picture Guide: VoL 1, A-B (1927-1983). Ed. Jay Robert Nash and Stanley Ralph Ross. Chicago: Cinebooks, 1 985. Bean, Robin. “The Balcony.” Films and Filming 10:2 (Nov. 1963): 20. Coleman, John. “House and Home.” New Statesman, 1 8 Oct. 1963: 538. Crowther, Bosley. ‘The Balcony’ Emerges as Labored Mockery.” New York Times 22 Mar. 1963: 7. “  Gill, Brendan. “Dressing Up.” New Yorker 30 Mar. 1 963: 1 43-44. Halliwell, Leslie. “The Balcony.” Halliwell’s Film Guide. 7th ed. New York: Harper, 1989: 71. Hartung, Philip T. Commonweal78 (12 Apr. 1963): 74. Hatch, Robert. “Films.” The Nation 18 May 1963: 430-31. “In a Temple of Illusions.” Time 81:13 (29 Mar. 1963): 54. Johnson, Sydney. “Wesker and Genet on the Screen.” Montreal Star 1 7 Aug. 1963: 1 8. Kauffmann, Stanley. “Boudoir of the World.” New Republic 23 Mar. 1 963: 34-5. Maddocks, Melvin. “Genet’s ‘Balcony’ as Film.” Christian Science Monitor 2 Apr.  72  1963: 4. Mime, Tom. “The Balcony.” SightandSound33 (Winter 1963): 40. Mueller, William R. “Metaphysical Masquerade.” Christian Century 31 July 1963: 960-61. “Pros at Play.” Newsweek 1 Apr. 1963: 81. Quigly, Isabel. “To Advantage Dressed.” Spectator 25 Oct. 1 963: 529-30. S., E. “The Balcony, U.S.A., 1963.” BFI/Monthly Film Bulletin 30 (Dec. 1963): 1 67-68. Strick, Joseph. Jacket Notes. The Balcony. Videocassette. Dir. Joseph Strick. Mystic Fire Video, 1 989. 87 mm. Tytherleigh, Mike. ‘Balcony’ is Biting.” Vancouver Province, Saturday supplement. 5 Oct. 1963: 13. “  Unkefer, Linn. “Lookout from Genet’s ‘Balcony’.” New York Times 11 Nov. 1 962, sec. II: 7. Wedman, Les. “Balcony Gamble is Big Success.” The VancouverSun. [Oct. 1963?]: n.p.  I I  Film & Film Theories  Andrew, Dudley. “The Well-Worn Muse: Adaptation in Film History and Theory.” Narrative Strategies: Original Essays in Film and Prose Fiction. Ed. Syndy M. Conger and Janice R. Welsch. Illinois: Western Illinois U, 1980: 10-17. Bazin, André. What is Cinema? Trans. Hugh Gray. 2 vols. Berkeley: U of California P, 1967. Bilodeau, Francois. “L’insoutenable Iégèreté de l’adaptation.” Liberté 30:3 (June 1988): 46-60. Cohen, Keith. “Eisenstein’s Subversive Adaptation.” The Classic American Novel and  73  the Movies. Ed. Gerald Peary and Roger Shatzkin. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1977: 239-56. Dagle, Joan. “Narrative Discourse in Film and Fiction: The Question of the Present Tense.” Narrative Strategies: Original Essays in Film and Prose Fiction. Ed. Syndy M. Conger and Janice R. Welsch. Illinois: Western Illinois U, 1980: 4759. Doane, Mary Ann. “Film and the Masquerade: Theorising the Female Spectator.” Screen 23:3-4 (Sept./Oct. 1982): 74-88. Eisenstein, Sergei. Film Form: Essays in Film Theory. Ed. and trans. Jay Leyda. San Diego: Harcourt, 1 949. Ellis, John. “The Literary Adaptation 1982): 3-5.  —  An Introduction.” Screen 23: 1 (May/June  Gamman, Lorraine. “Watching the Detectives: The Enigma of the Female Gaze.” The Female Gaze. Ed. Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment. London: The Women’s P, 1 988: 8-26. Gamman, Lorraine, and Margaret Marshment. Introduction. The Female Gaze. Ed. Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment. London: The Women’s P, 1 988: 17. Kerr, Paul. “Classic Serials 19.  —  To Be Continued.” Screen 23:1 (May/June 1982): 6-  Klein, Michael. Introduction. The English Novel and the Movies. Ed. Michael Klein and Gillian Parker. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981: 1-13. Larsson, Donald F. “Novel into Film: Some Preliminary Reconsiderations.” Transformations in Literature and Film: Selected Papers from the 6th Annual Florida State University Conference on Literature and Film. Ed. Leon Golden. Tallahassee: U Presses of Florida, 1 982: 69-83.  McConnell, Frank. Storytelling and Mythmaking: Images from Film and Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1 979. Mayersberg, Paul. “The Shared Dream.” Listener 27 Sept. 1 962: 473-75.  74  Monaco, James. How to Read a Film. New York: Oxford UP, 1981. Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasures and Narrative Cinema.” Screen 1 6:3 (Autumn 1975): 6-18. Price, James. “Words and Pictures.” London Magazine 4 (Oct. 1 964): 66-70. Robbe-Grillet, Alain. Introduction. L’année dernière editions de minuit, 1961: 7-19.  a Marienbad.  Paris: les  Stacey, Jackie. “Desperately Seeking Difference.” The Female Gaze. Ed. Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment. London: The Women’s P, 1 988: 11 2-29. Truffaut, François. Letters. Ed. Gilles Jacob and Claude de Givray. Trans. and ed. Gilbert Adair. London: Faber, 1989. Welsch, Janice R. Introduction. Narrative Strategies: Original Essays in Film and Prose Fiction. Ed. Syndy M. Conger and Janice R. Welsch. Illinois: Western Illinois U, 1980: 1-9. Winters, Shelley. Shelley II: The Middle of My Century. New York: Pocket Books, 1 989. Young, Shelagh. “Feminism and the Politics of Power: Whose Gaze is it Anyway?” The Female Gaze. Ed. Lorraine Gamman and Margaret Marshment. London: The Women’s P, 1 988: 1 7 3-88.  Ill  Strick, Genet & Peripheral Materials  Alexander, William. Film on the Left: American Documentary Film from 1931 to 1942. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP: 1981. Armour, Robert A. “The ‘Whatness’ of Joseph Strick’s Portrait.” The English Novel and the Movies. Ed. Michael Klein and Gillian Parker. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981: 279-90. Barsam, Richard. “When in Doubt Persecute Bloom.” The English Novel and the Movies. Ed. Michael Klein and Gillian Parker. New York: Frederick Ungar, 1981: 291-300.  75  Bickel, GisèIe A. Child. “Crime and Revolution in the Theater of Jean Genet.” Myths and Realities of Contemporary French Theater: Comparative Views. Ed. Patricia M. Hopkins and Wendell M. Aycock. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech P, 1 985: 1 6980. Cocteau, Jean and André Fraigneau. Cocteau on the Film. Trans. Vera Traill. London: Dobson, 1954. Cruickshank, John. “Jean Genet: The Aesthetics of Crime.” Critical Quarterly 6:3 (Autumn 1964): 202-10. Delpino, Louis. “Transliteration: Joseph Strick’s Tropic of Cancer.” Film Heritage 6:1 (Fall 1970): 27-29. Elsom, John. “Genet and the Sadistic Society.” London Magazine 3 (Aug. 1 963): 6 1 67.  -  Genet, Jean. The Balcony. Trans. Bernard Frechtman. New York: Grove, 1958. Heed, Sven Ake. “Querelle de Brest 60 (1988): 237-250.  —  un scenario de fantasmes.” Studia Neophiologica  Jacobsen, Josephine and William R. Mueller. lonesco and Genet: Playwrights of Silence. New York: Hill and Wang, 1 968. “Joseph Strick: Inner Directed.” Playboy 15:2 (Nov. 1968): 177. “Joycensors Beware.” Newsweekl9 Sept. 1966: 110-112. KaeI, Pauline. “Ulysses.” Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Boston: Little, 1 968: 1 69-70. Klein, Michael. “Strick’s Adaptation of Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist: Discourse and Containing Discourse.” Narrative Strategies: Original Essays in Film and Prose Fiction. Ed. Syndy M. Conger and Janice R. Welsch. Illinois: Western Illinois U, 1 980: 3 7-46. “Maddow, Ben.” The Film Encyclopedia. Ed. Ephraim Katz. New York: Crowell, 1979. “Maddow, Ben.” Writers and Production Artists. Ed. James Vinson. Volume 4 of The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Chicago: St. James P, 1 987.  76  “Maddow, Ben.” The World Encyclopedia of Film. Ed. Tim Cawkwell and John M. Smith. London: Studio Vista, 1972. Rhode, Eric. “Strick’s Ulysses.” Encounter29:2 (Aug. 1967): 5 1-2. Sherzer, Dma. “Frames and Metacommunication in Genet’s The Balcony.” Semiotics of Drama and Theatre: New Perspectives in the Theory of Drama and Theatre. Ed. Herta Schmid and Aloysius Van Kesteren. Volume 10 of Linguistic and Literary Studies in Eastern Europe. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1984: 3 68-9 2. Stoker, Bram. Dracula. New York: Bantam, 1989. Stravinsky, Igor and Robert Craft. Dialogues and a Diary. New York: Doubleday, 1 963. Expositions and Developments. New York: Doubleday, 1962. ---.  Memories and Commentaries. New York: Doubleday, 1960.  Strick, Joseph. The Balcony. Videocassette. Mystic Fire Video, 1 989. 87 mm. “The Blacklisting of Men and Ideas.” Film Culture 50/51 (Fall/Winter 1970): 50-3. “I Can Be Pretty Insulting!” In After Dark, July 1 970. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Videocassette. 1 977. 93 mm. Tropic of Cancer. Videocassette. 1970. 87 mm. Ulysses. Videocassette. 1967, 1 20 mm.  “Strick, Joseph.” The Film Encyclopedia. Ed. Ephraim Katz. New York: Crowell, 1979. “Strick, Joseph.” Directors/Filmmakers. Ed. Christopher Lyon. Volume 2 of The International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. Chicago: St. James P, 1 984. “Strick, Joseph.” The International Encyclopedia of Film. Ed. Roger Manvell. New York: Crown, 1972. “Strick, Joseph.” World Film Directors Volume 2: 1945-1985. Ed. John Wakeman.  77  New York: Wilson, 1 988. “Ulysses: A Superb Film from Joyce’s Cryptic Classic.” Life 31 Mar. 1967: 54-8. Warner, Marina.  Indigo. London: Vintage, 1992.  White, Edmund. Genet: A Biography. New York: Knopf, 1993. Wiser, William.  “Ulysses at Cannes.” Playboy 15:1 (May 1968): 101, 222-24.  Witt, Mary Ann. “Spatial Narration in Jean Genet’s Notre Dame de Fleurs and Le Balcon.” Myths and Realities of Contemporary French Theater: Comparative Views. Ed. Patricia M. Hopkins and Wendell M. Aycock. Lubbock, Texas: Texas Tech P, 1985: 129-40.  78 Appendix  1  Joseph Strick A  Chronology/Filmography  “My own attitudes are most clearly expressed in the original films I’ve done and not the adaptations, which have been just as much fun to make.” “Casanova has said that love is a form of curiosity, more or less intense. I think cinema is, at least for me. I do not have the killer instinct about every shot, and have sometimes made terrible mistakes out of curiosity, from just wanting to see how a particular scene with particular actors would turn out.” (quoted in Wakeman 1063-64). 1 1 1 1  923 942 946 948  1 949 I 950s 1953 1959  1 1 1 1  963 963 964 965  1 966 1 966 1 967 1 969 1969 1 970  1 970  Born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Left UCLA to become US Air Force pilot submarine reconnaissance Copy boy at the Los Angeles Times Muscle Beach (short documentary about Pacific body-builders. It cost $800 and he shot it weekends). Quit LA Times on strength of Muscle Beach’ s success. Jour de fête (short documentary about Paris street carnival) Promoter for companies specializing in high-precision instruments to finance The Savage Eye. The Big Break(Strick’s first feature) The Savage Eye (feature/documentary of LA’s underside). Started in 1 956, the film cost $42,000. Strick collaborated with Ben Maddow. Became full-time filmmaker. An Affair of the Skin (associate producer). Directed by Ben Maddow. The Balcony The Legend of the Boy and the Eagle (co-associate producer for Disney) Robert Flãherty Award, Best Feature-Length Documentary, TheSavage Eye. The Savage Eye also netted Strick a cash prize from the Edinburgh Festival and awards from Mannheim and Venice. The Hecklers (BBC documentary) Staged a revue of extracts from Aristophanes with the RSC at Stratfordon-Avon. Ulysses (based on the novel by James Joyce) Justine (based on the novel by the Marquis de Sade). Strick was replaced by George Cukor when he refused to make compromises. Ring of Bright Water (producer) Tropic of Cancer (based on the novel by Henry Miller, starring Rip Torn and Ellen Burstyn). Interviews with My Lai Valentine (documentary short). Won an Academy —  79  1 981  Award for Best Documentary Short Subject. The Darwin Adventure (producer) Road Movie (feature). The first non-adaptation Strick directed since The Savage Eye 14 years previous. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (based on the novel by James Joyce) The Space Works.  I I  Ben Maddow (aka David Wolff, David Forrest)  -  1 973 1973 1 979  A  Chronology/Filmography  “Ben Maddow has spent much of his screenwriting career working without credit or under a pseudonym, or on commercial projects over which he maintained little control. Despite this, he has gained a reputation in both independent and popular cinema as a socially concerned artist” (quoted in Vinson 280). 1 909 1 930 1930-35 1 935 1935-42  1 942 1 9 45-47 1 947 1948 1 948 1948 1 949 1950 1 951 1952-60  Born in Passaic, New Jersey. Graduated Columbia University. Worked as hospital orderly and social worker as well as writer. Answered ad for poet to write narration for documentary Harbor Scenes. Co-founder of Nykino (later Frontier Films), “an informal organization devoted to making films that promoted social awareness and the interests of the working class” (Vinson 280). He collaborated on a number of documentaries for The World Today, “a short-lived newsreel that was supposed to become the progressive Left’s answer to the conservative The March of Time” (Katz 762). During this time, he collaborated as screenwriter on Heart of Spain, China Strikes Back (1 937); Return to Life (1 938); The History and Romance of Transportation (1 939); United Action, White Flood, Tall Tales, Valley Town (1 940); A Place to Live, Here is Tomorrow (1 941); Native Land (1 942). The Bridge (co-director and writer). Documentary about South American trade problems. On return from South America, he was drafted by the US Air Corps motion picture unit Framed (first fiction film as writer) Kiss the Blood Off My Hands (Blood On My Hands) (screenwriter) The Man from Colorado (screenwriter) The Photographer(screenwriter) Intruder in the Dust (screenwriter, John Huston director) The Asphalt Jungle (screenwriter, John Huston director) TheStepsofAge(screenwriter, non-Hollywood film) Blacklisted by the HUAC for Leftist sympathies. “Ben Maddow was blacklisted also. For 7 years. He was blacklisted, definitely named, catalogued and fired. He was fired from a job in the middle of a contract Stanley Kramer’s The Wild One. It was later finished by Lazlo Benedek.... —  80  1 952 1 952 1 953 1 954 1954 1 956 1 957 1958 1 959 1 960 1961 1 963 1 963 1 967 1969 1 969 1 970 1 97 1  Kramer got the word and gave him the axe... And one of the really amusing things was that Ben went back to work for Kramer a year or two ago and did The Secret of Santa Vittoria. But nothing was ever said. Kramer never acknowledged what he’d done” (Strick 1970, 51). Shadow in the Sky (screenwriter) Published first novel: Forty Four Gravel Street The Stairs (director and writer for National Mental Health Association) Johnny Guitar (uncredited screenwriter) The Naked Jungle (uncredited screenwriter) The Last Frontier (uncredited screenwriter) Men in War (uncredited screenwriter) God’s Little Acre (uncredited screenwriter) The SavageEye (writer, co-producer, co-director) Returned to Hollywood films with The Unforgiven (screenwriter) TwoLoves(screenwriter) The Balcony(screenwriter, co-producer) An Affair of the Skin (director and writer) The Way West (screenwriter) The Chairman The Most Dangerous Man in the World(screenwriter) The Secret of Santa Vittoria (screenwriter) Storm of Strangers (producer and writer) The Mephisto Waltz (screenwriter) —  B  Bibliography  Maddow, Ben. Edward Weston: His Life and Photographs: The Definitive Volume of his Photographic Work. Millerton, New York: Aperture, 1 974. “Eisenstein and the Historical Film.” Hollywood Quarterly 1:1 (Oct. 1 945): 2630. Faces: A Narrative History of the Portrait in Photography from 1820 to the Present. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1 977. Forty Four Gravel Street. Boston: Little, 1 952. The Great Right Horn of the Ram. New York: French, 1967. “In a Cold Hotel.” New Theatre in America. Ed. Edward Parone. New York: Delta, 1965: 95-120. Intruder in the Dust. Tennessee: U of Tennessee P, 1978. Let Truth be the Prejudice: W. Eugenie Smith, his Life and Photographs. New York: Aperture, 1 985. The Photography of Max Yavno. Berkeley: U of California P, 1981. A Sunday Between Wars: The Course of American Life from 1865 to 1917. New York: Norton, 1979. “Tears and Misunderstandings.” Aperture 92 (FaIl 1 983): 28-35. “The Writer’s Function in Documentary Film. In Proceedings of the Writers’ Congress, LosAngeles, 1943. Berkeley: U of California P, 1944. Maddow, Ben and Irving Lerner. “Death and Mathematics.” Hollywood Quarterly 1:2 (Jan. 1946): 173-81. Maddow, Ben and John Huston. The Asphalt Jungle. Carbondale, Illinois: Southern  ---.  ———.  ---.  ———.  81  Illinois UP, 1980. Maddow, Ben and Terry Sanders. Slow Fires: On the Preservation of the Human Record: A Presentation of the American Film Foundation. Videocassette. 59 mm.  


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