Two months ago I finished my paper about The Female Figure in Marta Pajek’s Impossible Figures and Other Stories II. The animated short focus the conflict between the rational and a subliminal sensitive meta-level based on sexuality, nature, and intuition. Metaphors and symbolism play an essential role, resulting in complex ways of interpreting. Because interpretation is subjective, my work gives an individual point of view. The theories of Jens Eder and Paul Wells were a fundamental basis of my analysis. This blog post allows only an overview of my work. Therefore, I will mention the major parts.
Marta Pajek is a Polish filmmaker who graduated from the Graphic Arts Department in Krakow, 2005. Her style is simple and graphical. She uses mainly traditional 2d-techniques. Furthermore, her work reflects a great interest in psychology and spirituality. Music also plays a significant role in her work.
The formal concept of the triptych is based on the design of impossible figures. They could never be constructed in reality, but theoretically. Every part tells an impossible story based on a simple idea. The deeper the viewer gets, the more paradoxes the story encounter.
The diegetic concept examines the everyday life of a modern woman in different stages of intimacy. The first part is about the society the woman lives in. The second part shows the woman in her home. Finally, the last part reveals the intimate room between two people.
As I mentioned in a previous post, my aim was to analyze the figure and to reveal the symbolism. What individual and sociocultural factors may have played a role in the movie to affect the audience? How is it possible to get so many different layers of interpretation?
Analysis of the figure by Jens Eder
Jens Eder breaks the analysis of the film figure into four parts. At first, the recipient recognizes the figure as an artifact (mis-en-scène and montage). Secondly, the fictitious creature will be discovered. The viewer makes a mental modeling of the figure, of her physicality, psyche, sociality, behavior.
After that, the symbols and symptoms of the film figure will be discovered. At this point, the viewer makes a connection to his own identity. These aspects were the most interesting to me. Here I established a relationship between the ideas of the filmmaker and the imagination of the audience.
The Female Figure
Marta Pajek’s figure creates a curious image of women: excessive makeup, aggressive movements, sad body language. The filmmaker works against the mainstream image of a female character in animation. Not only her appearance breaks with conventions. In Paul Wells opinion, the male character in the animated movies always did the offensive actions (subject). The passive woman was primarily defined by their look (object). In the past most of the protagonists were male. Impossible Figures and Other Stories II proves that black is white.
Besides that, women still are the minority in film business. Nevertheless, Paul Wells mentioned the special aesthetics of female filmmakers in contrary to her male colleagues (quote from ‘Understanding Animation‘, p. 200):
The feminine aesthetic seeks to reveal a woman’s relationship to her own body; her interaction with men and other women; her perception of her private and public role; her social and political identity within the domestic and professional space, as determined by law; and also, the relationship between female sexuality, desire and creativity.
The egg is a great symbol of female fertility, which – in this animated short – vanishes. Because the female protagonist tries to catch the last egg before it breaks as the others did before. She doesn’t let the egg go till the end of the movie when it reveals his secret.
However, Marta Pajek sees the egg as a fragile element. It was important for her to find such an object, which could hide something inside.
I found some interesting analogy to the early feministic short story ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ from Charlotte Perkins Gilman.The beginning is different, but both of the female figures were bearded down by someone/something. Both of them seeking for freedom. Perkins protagonist tries to escape from her husband and to revolt against society. Pajek’s protagonist tries to escape from the viewer.
Quote from Marta Pajek:
I wanted this wallpaper to be a version of the greek choir. Giving a comment of the woman’s, situation or feelings – something that may provide the ’key to the mystery’, something that starts to be visible only at a certain moment. Eventually it is that ’inner voice’, which takes over (and a nice paralell with ’The Yellow Wallpaper’).
The first man appears hanging between the clothes in the cabinet of the protagonist. As if she’d forgotten her bedfellow there. Furthermore, the men seems to be will-less, passive creatures. The metaphor creates a strong symbol of contemporary society. Variable, replaceable partnerships are the spirit of the time. The unfamiliar role model gives a lot to think about.
The female figure disputes with her femininity and sexuality. She immerses herself into the deepest place of her mind. There she finds difficult relations to people, great emotions, and even love. It seems as if the woman steps into a dream or an old, forgotten memory. This scene stands out in many senses. The background is deep blue and everything is moving like below decks on a ship. Also, the beautiful song I’ll Be Your Woman from Michelle Gurevich is playing.
Impossible Figures and Other Stories II gives much room for interpretations. Marta Pajek used an expressive, metaphorical picture language. Furthermore, some shots sustain extraordinary long – to give the audience time to reflect.
Marta Pajek made a lot of thoughts about her protagonist. She got inspired by works of literature and film. Pajeks female protagonist is a strong, unconventional, independent and modern woman.
Many symbols in the film refer to the female sexuality. The viewers were constantly confronted by the protagonist. At the same time, she got tracked by them. The whole plot is very deep and well-thought-out.
I found also some parallels to the feminist ideology. Most of the male characters act as objects, while the woman is the subject – an interesting switch of old role models.
Marta Pajek’s work had impressed me very much and I loved to get deeper into it.