Film Scratches: Patterns of Violence – Blind Spot (2014)
Film Scratches focuses on the world of experimental and avant-garde film, especially as practiced by individual artists. It features a mixture of reviews, interviews, and essays.
A Review by David Finkelstein.
Blind Spot is a 9 minute short by Cristin Hughes made from clips appropriated from commercial films such as Basic Instinct, Kill Bill, Blue Velvet, Chinatown, Vertigo, Purple Rain, Fatal Attraction, and fifteen others. The film uses a simple but highly effective idea: Hughes analyzes the underlying plot elements which these films have in common, specifically in their treatment of male violence against women, and then strings together similar clips to form a kind of meta-narrative which reveals the overwhelming similarity in the assumptions behind these films.
Thus we see 8 or 9 versions of a lovely suburban home, then 8 or 9 versions of a guy looking at a woman and falling hard for her, then we see the clips of them kissing, and then the clips of him beating her up. Seeing the hatred and the full physical force men use to attack women in so many clips in a row is quite a daunting experience. Then the men all crawl to the women to beg forgiveness, then they sexually assault them, then the women go out and act promiscuous, and finally everyone is appropriately horrified at how they have ruined their lives.
The chosen clips are all just a few seconds long, the perfect highlight of the narrative moment. The accompanying soundtrack is also from the same footage but usually edited in longer, overlapping clips, a clever device which enables Hughes to underline the continuity between the diverse images.
It is disheartening to see how starkly this scenario of violence and non-communication is played out over and over in popular culture, and even more disheartening to think about how common it is in life. The reproduction of this pattern in real people’s lives is both a source for these films and an effect of them, as popular culture contributes to the way that men see women and that women see themselves. And the “blind spot” of the title? Is it any awareness, on the part of filmmakers, of a woman’s point of view? Certainly. But the blind “spot” is also any notion that men and women could possibly relate to each other in a way which lies outside of this pattern. By showing us what popular films are blind to, Hughes is opening our eyes.