Shanghai Express Film Analysis

1289 Words6 Pages
According to Laura Mulvey’s theory, “women are simultaneously looked at and displayed, with their appearance coded for strong visual and erotic impact so that they can be said to connote to-be-looked-at-ness” (837,). This is proven right in the film “Shanghai Express” 1932. The film highly focuses on the sexuality of two women, Shanghai Lily (Marlene Dietrich) and Hui Fui (Anna May wong). The two women are prostitutes who are looked down upon but at the same time are “displayed” for “strong visual and erotic impact” by developing Scopophilia.

The character and status of a woman that uses her sexuality as a form of income rather than in a committed relationship are represented as shameful and unhealthy. Regardless of this, both women are portrayed as sympathetic and looked at as sexual objects. One way to consider this is to
…show more content…
While she is talking to Doc Harvey in the corridor, we noticed that she is looking up and down at Harvey, perhaps checking him out while she asks for his watch. The following sentence in the scene “I can’t replace your ideas but I will buy you a new watch when we get to shanghai” explains that she is stressing Harvey to forget about the past and start everything new. We also noticed that she is constantly raising her eyebrows and giving a flirty smile while talking to Harvey. Her facial expressions give us the clue that she wants to sleep with him in exchange to buy him a brand new watch or perhaps she is asking for a new start as she still loves him. This reveals the status of women in the society and presents weakness of women in a different manner. The audience can conclude that although she slept with different men, she was always a “one man’s woman”. Despite the fact that Doc Harvey is not interested in her in that particular scene, Lily sexuality and the “perfect imagine” of her beauty is still presented for the world to be looked
Open Document