Sexual Politics and Narrative Film
One of the most distinctive voices in film criticism explores relationships between narrative style and sexual politics. Robin Wood, well known for his books Hollywood from Vietnam to Reagan and Hitchcock's Films Revisited, probes the political and sexual ramifications of fascism and cinema, marriage and the couple, romantic love, and representations of women, race, and gender in contemporary films from the United States, Europe, and Japan. He looks closely at the works of Leo McCarey and Jacques Rivette, Ozu's "Noriko Trilogy," and the recent Generation X films Before Sunrise and The Doom Generation. In a chapter on fascism and cinema that juxtaposes Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph of the Will and Alain Resnais's Night and Fog, Wood finds that what is most important is not these films' record of another time and place but "the light they can throw on our contemporary cultural situation." Wood's central concern in these chapters is the ways in which the films relate to sexual politics and the organization within our culture of gender and sexuality. Seeing humanity as a "battleground" of a struggle between forces for Life and those of Death, Wood holds out hope for a joining of the forces of feminism, antiracism, lesbian and gay rights, and environmentalism necessary for authentic movement toward liberation.