Listening to the ‘Multi-Voiced’ Feminist Film: Aspects of Voice-over, Female Stardom, and Audio-Visual Pleasure in Stephanie Beroes’ The Dream Screen (1986)

Ben Ogrodnik

Abstract


Experimental film literature often neglects the important role played by sound design as a key aspect within feminist film practice. Indeed, the utilization of audio techniques, such as voice-over, polyphony, and sonic collage, can powerfully challenge the scopophilic fetishism placed upon images of women. In order to expand the scholarly conversation, I focus on an exemplary found-footage film, The Dream Screen, 1986, by Stephanie Beroes. The 45-minute, 16mm film presents appropriated and re-edited footage of LuLu (Louise Brooks) from G. W. Pabst’s silent film Pandora’s Box. As we see Lulu in familiar scenarios from the original film, the audience also bears witness to a rich tapestry of quotations on the soundtrack, all spoken by different women. These quotations span 1970s feminist theory, Greek mythology, R&B song lyrics, personal diary entries, and Brooks’ own autobiography, giving new meaning and depth to Lulu’s character. I argue that Beroes’ mobilization of these disparate voices and discourses seeks to ‘undo’ (to borrow William Wees’ term) the misogyny of Pabst’s original depiction of femininity. In turn, her film refashions Lulu/Louise Brooks into a punk-feminist icon of resistance, while pointing to ways that women artists might recover images and sounds from and of their own experience.

 

Article received: December 28, 2017; Article accepted: January 10, 2018; Published online: April 15, 2018; Original scholarly paper

 

How to cite this article: Ogrodnik, Ben. "Listening to the ‘Multi-Voiced’ Feminist Film: Aspects of Voice-over, Female Stardom, and Audio-Visual Pleasure in Stephanie Beroes’ The Dream Screen (1986)." AM Journal of Art and Media Studies 15 (2018): 67–82. doi: 10.25038/am.v0i15.231


Keywords


voice-over; acousmêtre; Louise Brooks; G. W. Pabst; Stephanie Beroes; feminism; experimental film

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.25038/am.v0i15.231

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