MAETCHEN IN UNIFORM at the NFT free senior matinee.

The NFT free senior matinees are well worth attending. This month they screened the amazing Maedchen in Uniform to synchronise with the Lesbian and Gay Festival.

An excellent article about the film is to be found in the March 1981 issue of Jumpcut : “From repressive tolerance to erotic liberation”

Some quotes relevant to the representation of older women in films as both the women below are older women.

Harsh, ascetic, militaristic, the boarding-school environment is enforced by a totalitarian Principal (Emilia Unda) dedicated to toughening up her charges.

The ultimate incarnation of the absent, but controlling, patriarchy is the school Principal. Her identity as the “phallic woman” is suggested by her reliance on an ever-present cane, with which she measures her steps and signals her authority, and by the phallocentric codes of kinder, kirche, küche which she is dedicated to instilling. Her mandates and bearing call to mind a vision of Frederick The Great, to whom she has often been compared. Perhaps coincidentally, though, her jowly face and disassociated affect are equally reminiscent of that other prophetic cinematic persona of demented authority, Doctor Caligari.

Like the mad Doctor, this Principal is accompanied by an obedient assistant, a dark hunchbacked figure who carries out her orders. Unlike Caligari’s missions of murder, the Principal’s agenda is more properly “feminine” in its details of manipulation and reconnaissance. The henchwoman is a warped figure. Like the Principal shuffling with her cane, the assistant presents an image of womanhood carrying out patriarchal dirty work and physically warped by her complicity. Her hands huddled close to her chest, her eyes pinched and shoulders stooped, the assistant becomes a physical marker of emotional damage.

About rinaross

Born in 1935. MA in Film and Television Studies at the University of Westminster 1998. Studying the representation of older women in film since then.
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