chapter  4
13 Pages

Impossible spaces

Gothic special effects and feminine subjectivity
WithChristina G. Petersen

This chapter analyses a different spatial trajectory in which the Female Gothic’s use of special effects highlights the Gothic heroine’s inability to move past such boundaries through the fantastic impossible spaces created by the films. In Mary Ann Doane’s formulation, the Female Gothic protagonist and the Female Gothic spectator are never allowed enough detachment from the image to occupy a position of power. In addition to special effects such as miniatures and painted mattes, deep focus cinematography further works to contain the Female Gothic protagonist and spectator to a single plane of the image. In the Gothic woman’s film, the female protagonist is contained in the foreground and kept separate from the narrative action as another indication of her imprisonment. In addition to the use of mattes to create the trompe l’oeil of Manderley on fire at the end of the film, Rebecca and Dragonwyck used painted mattes to create the cavernous aristocratic spaces that dwarf their protagonists.