Riddles of the Sphinx

by Laura Mulvey , Peter Wollen

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
1977
92 min
OV English - with French subtitles
Feature film
Experimental
Color
DCP

Laura Mulvey will be attending

Retrospectives & Focus 2021

Official synopsis

The film consists of 13 sequences, most of them filmed in circular sequence shots, in domestic or public places occupied by the main character, Louise. The latter's faced with a change in her lifestyle and must learn to deal with domestic life and motherhood. The shooting is sometimes interrupted by sequences in which Laura Mulvey, the co-director, addresses the camera, and tells the myth of Oedipus meeting the Sphinx.

The programmer’s eye

After writing the text which defines the famous “male gaze”, Laura Mulvey tried, along with Peter Wollen, to find concrete staging solutions in this film from 1977. This film follows the daily life of an impeded woman, who is representative of women’s condition in the 70s. Combining 360-degree panoramas and interventions in front of the camera by Laura Mulvey, “Riddles of the Sphinx” (associated with the mystery of motherhood in the myth of Oedipus) is a starting point for other representations as well as an essential film for the history of feminism. — Natacha Seweryn

Biography and Filmography

Laura Mulvey is a British film critic and director. She questions audiovisual productions with regard to gender and is behind the concept of "male gaze". She works as a professor at Birkbeck University in London and is the author of the following books: “Visual and Other Pleasures” (1989), “Citizen Kane” (1992), “Fetishism and Curiosity” (1996) and “Death 24xa Second. Stillness and the Moving Image” (2006).

2013 - 23RD AUGUST 2008 (Short) - Mark Lewis, Laura Mulvey - Director
1994 - DISGRACED MONUMENTS - Mark Lewis, Laura Mulvey - Director
1983 - FRIDA KAHLO & TINA MODOTTI (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - THE BAD SISTER - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director
1982 - CRYSTAL GAZING  - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1980 - AMY! (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1977 - RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1974 - PENTHESILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter

Born in London, Peter Wollen was Emeritus Professor of Film, Television and Digital Media at the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA (California). He died in 2019. With Laura Mulvey, he directed six films, among which “Riddles of the Sphinx” (1977) and “Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti” (1984).

1987 - FRIENDSHIP'S DEATH - Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - FRIDA KAHLO & TINA MODOTTI (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - THE BAD SISTER - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1982 - CRYSTAL GAZING  - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1980 - AMY! (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1977 - RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1974 - PENTHESILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter

Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen

Dinah Stabb, Merdel Jordine, Rhiannon Tise...

British Film Institute

Centre audiovisuel Simone de Beauvoir

de Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen

Laura Mulvey is a British film critic and director. She questions audiovisual productions with regard to gender and is behind the concept of "male gaze". She works as a professor at Birkbeck University in London and is the author of the following books: “Visual and Other Pleasures” (1989), “Citizen Kane” (1992), “Fetishism and Curiosity” (1996) and “Death 24xa Second. Stillness and the Moving Image” (2006).

2013 - 23RD AUGUST 2008 (Short) - Mark Lewis, Laura Mulvey - Director
1994 - DISGRACED MONUMENTS - Mark Lewis, Laura Mulvey - Director
1983 - FRIDA KAHLO & TINA MODOTTI (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - THE BAD SISTER - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director
1982 - CRYSTAL GAZING  - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1980 - AMY! (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1977 - RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1974 - PENTHESILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter

Born in London, Peter Wollen was Emeritus Professor of Film, Television and Digital Media at the School of Theater, Film and Television at UCLA (California). He died in 2019. With Laura Mulvey, he directed six films, among which “Riddles of the Sphinx” (1977) and “Frida Kahlo and Tina Modotti” (1984).

1987 - FRIENDSHIP'S DEATH - Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - FRIDA KAHLO & TINA MODOTTI (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1983 - THE BAD SISTER - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1982 - CRYSTAL GAZING  - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1980 - AMY! (Short) - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1977 - RIDDLES OF THE SPHINX - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter
1974 - PENTHESILEA: QUEEN OF THE AMAZONS - Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen - Director and screenwriter