Movie Salon: Are We Questing for a Female Hero’s Jouney?

Our primary focus this month will be on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, 2009, directed by Niels Arden Oplev, written by Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg off the novel by Stieg Larsson.  Watch the TRAILER.

A story of a loved lost girl becomes a story of innumerable girls vanished from the face of our earth.   And in their place, pressed flowers in frames.

The intention here is to look at this film as a possible example of a female hero’s journey, an idea that bubbles away mostly underground and occasionally comes to surface.  Is there one?  Can Lisbeth Salander, this story’s intrepid hunter/gatherer of information, both digital and then, as she must dig back in time, dusty un-digital, be considered to be on a hero’s journey?  Is this conception of the path of self so compellingly elucidated for us by Joseph Campbell even applicable for a woman these days?  Or any other days for that matter?

And please accept my apologies for yet another movie that has to do with violence.  I guess we’ve more to do with this human reality before we’ll finally be done.  Acts of aggression (physical, emotional, economic, territorial) are to cause pain.  And the intimidating memory of the pain is used by the aggressor(s) to gain control.  In the case of this movie, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the exploration of aggression is through the unfolding violence of a mystery about the serial murder of women.

Bonus feature! – a discourse in the margins of the main Salon on the film Thelma and Louise from 1991, directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. 

The question is does Thelma and Louise fill in a piece of this female hero’s journey? With its turning inside out of the buddy road movie and yet still being one.  With its mostly humorous honesty about sexual harassment coupled with that realistic depiction of rape as an act of domination and violence, not eros.  Looking back, maybe this movie became a sign post along the narrative path where women, for a brief moment, found place and then the road T’d-out.  And so we got stopped there for a while, in idle.  Because we understood that to go forward along that same old story-way would, well, take us over a cliff.  And because, in the end, afterall, it’s about life.  Isn’t it?

Both these films are available from Netflix streaming on line or on DVD.

    • Helen Szablya
    • September 7th, 2010

    Dear Annie,
    You have made me interested in viewing this film, which up to now I’ve avoided because of the violent aspects. I look forward to seeing it. Thanks! Helen

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