Riddles of the Sphinx
Spectacle Theater (124 S. 3rd St., Brooklyn)
10pm both days
Laura Mulvey, author of the seminal essay “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema,” helped to establish feminist film theory as a legitimate field of study. With Peter Wollen, she directed one of the most visually stimulating, theoretically rigorous films to emerge from the 1970s.
Riddles of the Sphinx is a landmark fusion of feminism and formal experimentation that seeks to create a non-sexist film language. Its title figure, the legendary creature of antiquity, terrorized Thebes and self-destructed only after Oedipus correctly answered her riddle. Invoking and challenging traditional interpretations of the Oedipus story as a movement from matriarchal culture to patriarchal order, the film also probes representation in film itself. The central narrative section, about Louise, a middle-class woman, and her four-year-old daughter Ana, is an inquiry into the arbitrary nature of conventional film techniques that captures Louise’s struggles with motherhood in a patriarchal society.