chapter  1
14 Pages

Bluebeard’s women fight back

The Gothic heroine in contemporary film and Heidi Lee Douglas’ Little Lamb (2014)
WithGisèle M. Baxter

‘Bluebeard’ enjoyed a fairly long if problematic stretch as a children’s story. The story presented the notion that a good scare can be pleasurable, although Charles Perrault’s version – perhaps the most well-known telling of the story – provided droll and somewhat ironic morals at the end of his tale. Little Lamb’s historical specificity and its Tasmanian setting are crucial to its creation of atmosphere, yet the film presents to the 21st-century viewer a Bluebeard story that is a contemporary, feminist Gothic tale. Echoes of and motifs from ‘Bluebeard’ run throughout Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano, but there is a pivotal scene where the story is performed as a combination of live action and shadow play by adult members of the community at a school pageant in mid-19th-century New Zealand. Little Lamb, however, dismantles many more elements of the Bluebeard story in retelling it.