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?
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17 Responses to Two for the Road: Questions for Reflection


    I love the structure of Two For the Road. The timeline shifts were difficult to follow at first because I was uncertain of the years the film was jumping to. However, it became an easy adjustment. It was not the the jumping between times either, but also the comparison between the two traveling alone and them traveling with Howie and Kathy. There is a scene just about in the middle of the film that is sped up. It represents the hectic nature of traveling with others and trying to keep to another persons’ schedule. Not long after that the group splits off, as if that last hectic moment was too much. After they abandon Howie and Cathy, Mark says to Joanna that they will only ever travel alone.

    However the time shifts in the movie play an important role here. Not long after Mark makes that loving statement he is shown cheating on Joanna. The shifts then become more frequent and quicker, showing their child, then back to their first trip together, and then back to them with their daughter. The shifts from young love to tense parents These cutaways bring a depressing and pessimistic mood to the film. For the first half of the movie, the scenes where they are young and in love are refreshing and hopeful, however the movie takes a dark turn. Those short scenes no longer feel desirable but rather naive.

    Though the flashbacks and time shifts in the film bring a dismal tone to the film, the way the film is edited to pretty remarkable. The way the scenes are connected by location but separated by time is very interesting. In some cases it seems that they are actually colliding with their past and future.

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