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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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


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.

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