Stories of Telltale Eyes
Filmic Gaze and Spectatorial Agency in Krzysztof Kieslowski's A Short Film about Love, Ferzan Ozpetek's Facing Windows, and Wes Anderson's Moonrise Kingdom
This paper attempts to rethink the concept of the filmic gaze through a comparative analysis of three films, namely, Krzysztof Kieślowski’s Krótki film o miłości (A Short Filmabout Love, 1988), Ferzan Ozpetek’s La Finestra di Fronte (Facing Windows, 2003), and Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom (2012). ‘Filmic gaze’ here refers not to the production of the filmic/discursive self through suture but to the whole fabric of the film, which is construed as a looking subject. Kaja Silverman’s cinematic suture theory and Descartes’s dark room parable are employed to illustrate how the passivising filmic gaze of classical narrative cinema confines the spectator to the position of the voyeur, who observes rather than creates the scene that pleases her. A Short Film about Love is analysed to demonstrate conventional film-audience dynamics and is then compared with two contemporary auteur films, Facing Windows and Moonrise Kingdom, which, by addressing viewers through the characters’ telltale eyes, keep reconceiving suture as they go along, blurring the boundary between intra-diegetic and extra-diegetic looks, and thus offering spectators a more active and varied spectatorial agency than that of the voyeur.