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In fact, in the one-sided history of cinema, so many directors who abuse women in one way or another have been able to find repeated success and acclaim that abuse is not just systematically overlooked — it is often treated as a sign of a man’s genius.The dominance of white men is the centuries-long story of the world we live in, and the movies have long played a role in celebrating and maintaining patriarchy.And if the popular idea of directing remains primarily about precision, control, and masculinity, then it should be no surprise that it often manifests as expressions of power over women — which often inflict real and lasting damage.Shelley Duvall won Best Actress at Cannes in 1977 for her part in Robert Altman’s 3 Women, but her performance as Wendy Torrance in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, three years later, was criticized so harshly that it would ultimately overshadow everything else she accomplished in her career — even as the film has been used to bolster the claim that Kubrick is one of cinema’s greatest artists.There are some signs that Weinstein’s downfall might already be impacting the dominance of white men in the industry.And if disrupting the status quo is the goal, it’s past time for cinema’s elite to explore how the deification of men who direct might itself be contributing to an environment ripe for abuse.Schneider, who appeared opposite Marlon Brando, said in 2007 that although the assault in the film was simulated, “I felt humiliated and to be honest, I felt a little raped.” The Italian director had no qualms about sharing in 2016 that he intentionally withheld information about the scene in order to remain in complete control: "I didn't want Maria to act her humiliation her rage, I wanted her … the rage and humiliation.” Men aren’t just given the majority of opportunities in cinema, but are rewarded for making films in a way that reinforces their power and control in society, which we see in the way authoritarian filmmaking itself is glorified.Whether it’s the famously warlike atmosphere of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, or the “unbearable conditions” reported by the actors of the Palme D’Or–winning Blue Is the Warmest Color, many of the most highly praised films are those that display, in their “craft,” an adherence to hypermasculine ideals of power.
But in 2011, Björk challenged the idea that the performances of women in his films were evidence of von Trier’s artistry, asserting instead that “he needs a female to provide his work soul. But he hasn’t been ostracized in the industry for jokes about sympathizing with Hitler, or his legacy of pushing women past their limits on set.
Duvall, playing opposite Jack Nicholson as a woman tormented by her husband’s mounting, murderous rage, was nominated for worst performance at that year’s Razzies; Stephen King, who wrote the original novel, once said, “Shelley Duvall as Wendy is really one of the most misogynistic characters ever put on film.
She’s basically just there to scream and be stupid and that’s not the woman that I wrote about.”But as she explained in her own words, Duvall’s acting wasn’t a mistake, but rather a performance precisely engineered by Kubrick, who intentionally created a horrific environment for her:"Going through day after day of excruciating work was almost unbearable. I had to cry 12 hours a day, all day long, the last nine months straight, five or six days a week. After all that work, hardly anyone even criticized my performance in it, even to mention it, it seemed like.
After all, not everyone gets to be a provocateur, or a “juvenile” genius, on a film set.
And the long leash men specifically receive for their “risky” artistic exploration has too often shown a tendency to morph into a cosigning of the exploitation of power.
He has been awarded the Palme D’Or, the Grand Prix, and the Jury Prize at Cannes Film Festival.