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Historical Legacy Of Colonialism Essay

878 words - 4 pages


Colonialism is a system of direct political, economic and cultural dominationintervention by a powerful country in a weaker one. Simultaneous mise-en-scène analysis of the film clips Cleo from 5 to 7 and the Battle of Algiers establishes a relationship between the two films as expressions of the historical legacy of colonialism. Agnès Varda, true to her dialectical film making practices, showcases Cleo as a sexual commodity and the product of the French colonial male domineering attitude towards women. The Battle of Algiers conversely shows the Muslim women exchanging their veils for lipstick, enabling them to strike against colonialism by utilizing the patrilineal colonialist view of ...view middle of the document...

The large window was a reminder of the specter of the external male dominated society and served as an entry point for white light. White light (the absence of color) is equated by Varda with death (the absence of life). Cleo aimlessly traversed the lobby characteristic of the “motif of the female flânerie” which was a striking contrast to the charged activity of the Algerians on their self-directed march. In the Battle of Algiers, despite the predominance of mirror framed close up shots, the camera’s use of zoom outs, over the shoulder shots in combination with double mirrors established the consistent presence of all three women. Their emotional connection was also apparent as they quickly worked, as if choreographed, in a small room filled with personal possessions. As the lone subject of most frames and without props, Cleo was never in competition for the foreground position.

In the Battle of Algiers, the group of three women of different generations illustrated the matriarchy which existed in Algerian society and represented a cultural trait where women who are sequestered together not only trust each other but are effective in their defined roles. The youngest woman’s anxious facial expression was erased as she glanced at the middle aged woman whose body language and expression exuded confidence. In contrast, Cleo turned her back to the seated ordinary women as their eyes focused on her physical beauty which produced an unspoken class structure and competition which eliminated any opportunity for comradeship. Her decision to stop at the mirror was a method of solitary re-affirmation, captured by the headshot of her reflection. As Cleo...

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