University of Cambridge > Talks.cam > Cambridge Screen Media Group > Screen Media Group Presents: The False Archive: Unbearable and Impossible Images in Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’

Screen Media Group Presents: The False Archive: Unbearable and Impossible Images in Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’

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The Screen Media Group are delighted to present Anna Backman Rogers (Stockholm University), who will be presenting ‘The False Archive: Unbearable and Impossible Images in Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’. In terms of its narrative, Sofia Coppola’s ‘The Virgin Suicides’(adapted from the novel by Jeffrey Eugenides) centres on themes of haunting, loss and mourning; as such, it is a melancholic and profoundly cinematic meditation on the inexorability of time, the passing of youth into adulthood and false recollection. What renders this film an extraordinary adaptation of the novel, however, is the way in which Coppola evokes these themes through the very materiality of the film, so that it becomes in and of itself a work of mourning. Stereotypical or clichéd images borrowed from advertising and soft pornography (read here as a collective archive) are de-stabilised by the spectre of something dark and troubling that evades rational explanation and precipitates a deconstruction of the American Dream (specifically notions of adolescent femininity and beauty). In the process of doing so, Coppola not only probes issues of implicit violence and control within the adolescent rite of passage, but also the unspeakable and ineffable emotions of loss and grief and the coping mechanisms we invoke to deal with the crisis of death. This paper will focus specifically on Coppola’s use of the cliché as a visual mode for evoking the unbearable sensations of grief, the passing of time and the inaccuracy of memory.

This seminar presents a continuation of the ongoing Screen Media lecture series Mnemotechnics and the Archive, which considers the ways in which individual, institutional and social memories have been understood to relate to media forms that participate in their inscription, subversion, perpetuation and effacement.

Anna Backman Rogers is a postdoctoral scholar in the cinema studies department at Stockholm University, Sweden. She has forthcoming monographs on rites of passage in American Independent Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2014) and Sofia Coppola (Berghahn, 2015). She has published work on the films of Jim Jarmusch, Gus Van Sant, Sofia Coppola, and Miranda July.

This talk is part of the Cambridge Screen Media Group series.

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