Beyond Bluebeard: feminist nostalgia and Top of the Lake (2013)

Thornham, Sue (2019) Beyond Bluebeard: feminist nostalgia and Top of the Lake (2013). Feminist Media Studies, 19 (1). pp. 102-117. ISSN 1468-0777

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Jane Campion’s films have repeatedly used the Bluebeard story as a myth underpinning their narrative structures. This article examines the way in which her 2012 TV series, Top of the Lake both uses and moves beyond this myth, arguing that its central focus on mothers and daughters draws instead on another, related myth, that of Demeter and Proserpine. This story, Mary Jacobus has suggested, is the Greek myth that Freud does not select, indeed represses, in his search for a founding myth that would ground the psychoanalytic story of childhood development. It is also a myth which, in a gesture of ‘feminist nostalgia’, feminists have repeatedly appropriated in their desire to recover a ‘lost’, unalienated mother-daughter relationship. Top of the Lake, I argue, is both an exercise in and investigation of such feminist nostalgia. Campion’s evocation of the myth of Proserpine/Demeter to underpin its complex mix of female Gothic and detective story counters the dominant cultural narrative of Oedipus. But like Jacobus it remains suspicious of utopian fantasies and the unalienated body.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Feminist nostalgia Bluebeard Mother-daughter relations Female investigator Uncanny landscape
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Film and Music > Media and Film
Depositing User: Sue Thornham
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 13:37
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2021 12:05

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