This week’s installment in the Ethical Dilemmas on Film series is the 1967 film Two for the Road. Here are some questions to get you started in your reflection:
Pay careful attention to the editing. What devices does the director use to cut between different time periods?
To what extent do Marc and Joanna’s memories dictate the editing of the film? Are Marc and Joanna still talking to each other as the movie goes along or are they having independent memories?
How does each scene have a corresponding scene?
How is the film a rewriting of the story of Adam and Eve?
Why does the film end where it does?
How do the chronology and construction of this film affect how we view each of the characters? Do the formal choices that Frederic Raphael (the screenwriter) and Stanley Donen (the director) make change our minds about the film’s ethical dimensions? That is, how do the film’s formal innovations ask us to think about adultery? Power games? Misogyny? Love triangles? Etc.
In her essay, “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” Laura Mulvey argues that “pleasure in looking has been split between active/male and passive/female. The determining male gaze projects its phantasy on to the female figure which is styled accordingly. In their traditional exhibitionist role women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness.” How does Two for the Road support or negate this theory?