The Lisbon Sisters In The Virgin Suicides

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Set in the suburbs of Michigan during the 1970s, the lives of five Lisbon sisters are uncovered by their childhood neighbors in a series of flashbacks, interviews, and memories. Under strict provision from their parents, the girls were forced to fight for any individuality they could attain, whether it be through sex, romance, music, or alcohol. Decades later, the boys are still obsessing over the beautiful, mysterious, unattainable Lisbon sisters. Only now, they are obsessing about who they were before the suicides. Sofia Coppola’s, The Virgin Suicides, defines the Lisbon sisters as object of masculine desire through the use of voyeurism and manipulation. The immense weight of the conflicting societal, domestic, and internal pressures drove…show more content…
Despite all of Mrs. Lisbon’s attempt to shelter and purify her daughters, they were still tempted to conform to societal pressures. However, it seemed that everyone with an outside perspective of the girls had a different expectation for them. They were controlled by their parents and manipulated by their peers throughout the film. The audience is never allowed to see or understand the girl’s thoughts or feelings, we watch the story unfold through the tales the neighborhood boys have gathered through their observations. The narration consumes the voices of the sisters, painting them as “indistinct erotic objects rather than subjects” (Shostak). They are isolated, helpless to the perceptions of the society that waits to critique their every action. Most of the scenes are shot inside the Lisbon’s home or school. The dreams and imaginations of the boys are the only outlet from the steady scenes of the sister’s mundane lives. These scenes display what the boys want the girls to be: sexy, young, and playful; the exact opposite of the qualities their mother instills in them. Mrs. Lisbon forced the girls to live a strict, cold, and secluded life in attempt to save their purity. Coppola uses contradicting costuming, settings, background music, and exposure to convey the sharp contradiction between the scenes of the boy’s imaginations and the actuality of the sister’s lives under the provision of their mother. Sensual costuming, large exposure, and upbeat music dictate the boy’s fantasies. Conservative costuming, religious motifs, less exposure, and cold music persist in scenes from inside their home. The latter scenes represent the image of feminine purity that the girls were expected to

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