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Thema: Winter's Bone

  1. #1
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    Winter's Bone

    Interessanter Film, der auf einer literarischen Vorlage basiert. Der Autor schrieb auch die Vorlage fuer "Ride With The Devil". In meinem Seminar American Independent Film haben wir den vor einiger Zeit gesehen und er war jetzt Teil des finalen Exams. Hab mir folgendes dazu ueberlegt, wen es also interessiert:


    An Independent Woman In An Independent Film

    The protagonist of “Winter’s Bone”, Ree, deviates from the usual depiction of women in films. “Usual” in this context refers to Bill Nichols’ thesis that female characters tend to be stereotypically represented as a virgin, a wife, a mother or a vamp. Ree is part of neither. However she shares aspects of some of the representations. In combining familiar aspects of female representation, Ree redefines the role of the woman in film. What the film does is that it re-appropriates some familiar female representations and conveys another image of women. Quite fittingly this image might be called independent. Firstly I will analyze Ree in detail, followed by a discussion of the meaning of this approach to women in film.

    Ree is a strong person. Her mother is incapable of raising her and her siblings and her father is physically absent throughout the whole film, except the scene where Ree cuts off his hands. This is a symbolic sequence. In the environment the characters live in, the hands are more than mere body parts. They are necessary tools for survival. Survival in this context should not bear the connotation, that without hands you would not be fit to live. You would, but in the story world of “Winter’s Bone” hands are the tools to make a living. The work done by most of the characters is of a very physical nature, for example chopping wood. Physical labor is usually attributed to men and the fact that Ree takes away the tools (that is hands) of what is supposed the central man (her father) in her life at the age of 17, illustrates that she takes over the “duties” of a man and bears male responsibility. According to Nichols that means that Ree is doomed for a horrible ending, as he argues that strong women, like Thelma and Louise in the film of the same title, or the protagonist of “Christopher Strong” eventually pay ultimate prices for their strength (Nichols 397). However “Winter’s Bone” disputes that. Ree achieves the goal she sets for herself, saving her family’s home, finding her father (it is irrelevant that he is dead, technically she found him). Even more, she is rewarded financially, with the bounty hunter giving her a huge amount of money. Since her father has not at all fulfilled his role as such, it seems feasible to believe that he will not be missed; therefore the ending of the film can be considered a positive, if not even happy one. Jennifer Lawrence is a very attractive woman. However the film “manages” to make this fact obsolete. Granik, Lawrence and the screenplay do not allow Ree to fulfill any stereotype. As already discussed she is a very strong person. It seems like her strength is the result of combining many aspects. Ree is without doubt not the stereotypical virgin character, as defined by Bill Nichols (Nichols 399). It is true that Ree is vulnerable, but only physically, as she gets beaten up by other women. However, at the end of the film she has dealt with a criminal organization, discovered and chopped up her father’s body and manifested her status as provider of the family. No man is her protector. Teardrop is not fit for that role, because he will perish. He will do so, after the plot and film end and the story goes on, because he tells Ree that she should never tell him, who killed her father and his brother, because he would have to do something about it and that would eventually lead to his death. In one of the last scenes he states that he now knows who killed his brother, thus speaking his own death sentence.

    Another aspect of the virgin is her purity. This is a characteristic that cannot be applied to Ree. We do not know, whether she had sex, as that is a non-existing topic throughout the whole film and in fact Ree might be perceived as asexual. Her purity is soiled by her capacity of killing animals, ripping of their skin and obviously in performing the nauseating act of cutting off her father’s head for a financial goal (which sustaining the family property consequently is). The second female stereotype Nichols discusses is the wife. Obviously Ree is not married and it has been stated before that she seems to be an asexual character. She is also not a metaphorical wife, because that would imply that there are male characters in her family that embody a form of leadership to which Ree subordinates. Nichols writes about the wive in film:

    “She keeps the home fires burning as her husband does battle in the public sphere, or her complaints and worries weaken his resolve to act boldly as a public figure, something he must overcome by showing her how society requires his contribution to the greater good (401f.).”

    In “Winter’s Bone” Ree “keeps the fires burning”, continuing her duties towards her family, but there is no husband who battles in public. On the contrary, it is Ree who battles in the public place, as when following Thump Milton to the cattle market, taking the role of Nichols’ stereotypical husband. Furthermore she does never complain and continues her struggle even after hardly getting away from her pursuit alive. I would also argue that society in “Winter’s Bone” does not know a greater good. Everybody is secretive about what he is doing and people who threat to go public, like Ree’s father, vanish.

    Another stereotype Nichols defines is the one of the mother. This is the one stereotype Ree shares the most characteristics with, although she is not a biological mother. She takes care of her siblings and sacrifices for that, as she quit school prematurely. She teaches her siblings everyday tasks, like cooking, as is implied in the scene, where her friend’s husband with the pick-up truck takes her away (of course that moment is not a cooking lesson, her comment on how to cook the potatoes however, implies that she has taught the siblings before). Typically mothers will do everything for the good of the children (Nichols 403). Thinking about that statement, yet again it becomes clear that Ree cutting off her father’s hands is the central moment of the film. She does so, because it is the only way to prove that her father is dead and consequently keep the family house. A close-up of her face during this terrible moment shows that it is a very painful situation for Ree, but she does not stop. She does it for the family and since her mother is basically inept of any human interaction, she does it for her younger siblings. However it is probable that Ree only teaches her siblings, in order to get away from her duties. She wants them to be able to take care of themselves, so she can live a life after her wishes. She tells her little brother that he has to learn how to skin an animal. When she speaks with the army recruiter she says that it would be interesting to see other countries. While both moments not solely describe Ree as planning to eventually live her own life, they express that there is more than sheer love towards her family and that she is very aware of the experiences she has not made, because she committed to her family. In that she is different than characters like Mildred Pierce, in the film of the same title, who risks everything for her child, sacrificing the ability to decide on her own life.

    The last stereotype Nichols identifies is the vamp. As Ree is asexual this type hardly bears similarity to her at all. However, like the femme fatale, Ree seeks monetary gain. Only finding her father will provide her with the home as she knows it and Ree uses any means necessary to achieve that. The difference between her and vamps as found in for example “Double Indemnity” is that behind her wish for financial success is the desire to provide for her family. Femme fatales want financial gain for selfish reasons. In “Double Indemnity” and many other Noir-films, vamps are eventually punished with death. Quite the opposite is true for Ree.

    What does it mean that Ree is not part of any group that women usually play in film? She is a virgin, but not pure, she is not a wife, but an entity that combines classic roles of marriage. She is a mother, but not willing to give up her personality for the children and she is not a vamp but takes action for financial reasons. All these categories share that they need a male perspective to become such. Usually a virgin requires a man to lose her purity and there cannot be a wife without husband. Mothers take care of the children, while fathers take care of the family’s survival. And vamps seduce men. In including qualities of all these images of women, without allowing a male gaze which in a mainstream film would characterize these female depictions, “Winter’s Bone” offers a new perspective on women in film. They are truly independent from males. This approach is not entirely new, as the example of “Thelma And Louise” illustrates, but it seems that Granik’s film is one of the few, maybe the first, films to allow these independent women success. The instrument the filmmakers use to establish women as successful and not dependent on male help, is the absence of strong male characters. Ree’s brother only a child. The sheriff is weak, if not inept, as he lets himself be intimidated by Teardrop. Ree’s uncle is a dead man walking, as mentioned earlier. His disappearance is only a matter of time. The protagonist’s father is already dead and robbed of his manhood, which is his hands, because these are especially needed to provide a living in the story world. Ree’s girlfriend eventually gets the truck her boyfriend is unwilling to lend and thus subverts male authority the same way the women of the criminal organization do, when they show Ree where her father is. Furthermore they seem to feel sorry for her, as close-ups of their faces suggest, when the organization discusses what to do with Ree. There seems to be a band between women in “Winter’s Bone”. Men are not an authority and women do what they think is right, not regarding the men’s instructions. The fact that these women subvert their roles, most prominently, establishes the fact that they are independent.

    In this essay I characterized the protagonist of “Winter’s Bone”, Ree, to not be fulfilling the stereotypes of women in film, as defined by Bill Nichols. Together with the fact that there are no strong male characters, this refusal of a male gaze on women illustrates that Ree is an independent character. A further discussion question would be if this unusual view on women necessitates “Winter’s Bone” to be an independent film. Would such a character, free of male influence, be possible in a mainstream film, is a question worth another essay.
    Geändert von Danwalker (02.06.2011 um 03:35 Uhr)
    You can't be wise and in love at the same time - Bob Dylan

    http://www.humanspotlight.de.vu/

  2. #2
    Regisseur Moderator Avatar von John McCane
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    Schöne Ausarbeitung, kann dir in allen belangen zustimmen. Die Protagonistin ist auch ganz klar das Glanzstück des Films, auch wenn mir einige Nebendarsteller auch sehr gut gefallen haben.
    Was aber am faszinierendsten für mich an dem Film war, war die Umgebung und das allgemeine Gefühl was in dieser Gegend vermittelt wurde. Wirklich unheimlich und seltsam wenn man sonst nur die stereotypischen Bilder des "White Trash" und dessen Wohngegenden kennt.

    btw: erinnerst mich mit der krassen Form der Ausarbeitung direkt wieder an meine Abiarbeit, wird das bei dir im Studium auch noch so penibel geprüft?
    Forget about Freeman

  3. #3
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    Ja, wobei, dass was ich geschrieben habe eher oberflaechlich ist. Es ist eine reine Analyse, ohne viel weitere wissenschaftliche Arbeit. In Deutschland koennte ich sowas nicht abgeben, in den USA schon.

    Ja, bei der Stimmung hatte ich das gleiche Gefuehl.
    You can't be wise and in love at the same time - Bob Dylan

    http://www.humanspotlight.de.vu/

  4. #4
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    Den Film möcht ich auf jeden Fall sehen. Allein schon wegen dem großartigen Garreth Dillahunt und John Hawkes, Trailer und Kleinkaffsetting mit Sheriff sah auch ansprechend aus. Leider lief der bei uns nicht. Muß wohl auf Sky PayTV oder DVD warten.

  5. #5
    Statist Avatar von insiang
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  6. #6
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    Danke, ich habs grad bei Amazon.de gesehen auf Deinen Hinweis hin, daß es eine UK-DVD gibt. Leider ist weder bei amazon.de noch bei amazon.co.uk. bei den Produktbeschreibungen ersichtlich, ob die DVD nur englischen oder auch, wie manchmal bei UK-DVDs, auch deutscher Ton enthalten ist. Weißt Du das zufällig? Abgesehen davon bin ich von Blindkäufen mittlerweile meilenweg weg und würde mir den Film im Zweifel dann eher als deutsche DVD aus dem Verleihshop ausleihen wenn er erscheint. Trotz Dillahunt und Hawkes, so viel Zeit muß dann doch sein.

  7. #7
    Ali
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    kein deutscher ton. guck ihn doch ov.

  8. #8
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    Nö, dann warte ich eben noch ein zwei drei Monate. Blindkauf und noch dazu nur in OV kommt nicht in die Tüte.

  9. #9
    Ali
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    AW: Winter's Bone

    wieso? ov ist doch gut.

  10. #10
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    Kann gut sein.. Manches mag ich nur OV, Manches sowohl als auch, Manches nur Synchro.
    Und Neues, insbesondere wenns einen Blindkauf darstellen würde, zunächst mal als Synchro.
    Später schalt ich dann aber schon auch auf OV und schau ob mir die OV-Stimmen besser gefallen als die gewählten Synchronstimmen und wie ich die Atmosphäre, den Fluß des Films in OV gegenüber der Synchro finde. Und da obsiegt bei mir zumeist die Synchro. Manchmal aber auch die OV.

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