restricted access Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema (UK, 1975)

Influenced by the influx of Lacanian psychoanalysis into critical theory and one of the most infamous, influential, and controversial essays of “screen theory”—and at the center of the so-called theory wars of the late 1980s and early 1990s—Mulvey’s “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema” is best understood as the preeminent feminist film manifesto, not only challenging the patriarchal structures of classical Hollywood cinema but also outlining a radical, new feminist film aesthetic. In collaboration with Peter Wollen, Mulvey codirected Riddles of the Sphinx (UK, 1977)—one of the few films that can be truly called a “manifesto film”—which applies the principle of the destruction of the pleasure enabled by the male gaze outlined in this essay to bring into being a new, feminist language of the cinema.