Monday, February 29, 2016

Core Post #3 Performance and Signifiers--Cate Blanchett

When Dyer was talking about Bette Davis in this weeks reading, it reminded me of Cate Blanchett’s recent performances. She was in three films that were released in 2015: Cinderella, Truth and Carol.  I saw Cinderella and Carol in theaters this year and have only seen a trailer for Truth. However, Blanchett exudes regalness and royalty as an actress and that carries over into her films. In both readings in SID, Articulating Stardom By Barry King and Signs of Melodrama by Christine Gledhill, they discuss typecasting and their personae influencing their image. Blanchett is regal in life and presents herself in such a way that represents poised personae. In Cinderella, this exactly what is needed for the stepmother. There are shots that present this and play with her personality. They use it for the character. It works towards the goal of how the stepmother is characterized and played—it makes her role. In Carol, I remember thinking “Blanchett can’t not be regal and eloquent.”  During a clip of Carol at the Oscars my friend said, “Cate Blanchett is always a queen.” Blanchett is continually holding herself in such a way, and doesn’t really change that poise. In Blue Jasmine, it’s the reason she’s cast as that part. And while she becomes unwound and disheveled, she’s performing as someone who is has elegance and eloquence. In all the films, she has a powerful gaze. She also has played Queen Elizabeth I twice—and won an Oscar for it.  Like Bette Davis, Blanchett has signifiers and trademarks: the way she holds her hands, her body poses, her eyes, and her voice.

Her hands—she is holding them like an elegant hand model, whether she is sitting there or has a cigarette in her hand.  The way that she poses as well as the way the camera views her. Like in both Gledhill and King’s, articles, they argue that it isn’t always the actor’s performance, but the camera or cinematic art that makes the performance. While, Blanchett poses herself in such a manner as to exude elegance and sophisticatedness, it is also the camera and lighting contributes to the feeling.  The camera captures her eyes in the way that Dyer discusses Davis’ eyes were captured and like Davis’ eyes the similarly signify duality and ambiguous emotions. Blanchett’s voice is demanding, authoritative and eloquent. It’s a Blanchett trademark. I added pictures I could find below of Cate Blanchett in Cinderella and Carol that show how she composes herself as well as how the camera captures her.

Kate McKinnon did an impression of her for the Spirit Awards. You can see some of the trademarks and signifiers and McKinnon makes fun of her:  

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