Dr Who – Textual Analysis – Essay

“Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of gender using the following:”

  • Camera shots, angles, movement and composition
  • Editing
  • Sound
  • Mise en scene

The representation of gender is conveyed through different techniques through the director. To begin with, Martha appears to be entering a larger room with two guards armed with large assault rifles. The representation of gender is shown here through mise en scene because the male guards are shown to be in control and also have the added power of carrying threatening looking assault rifles. In this individual scene, through the mise en scene it shows that Martha is not in control. However, the camerawork of the closeup of Martha’s face shows the audience that she is fearless of her apparent capture.

In the mid shot of Martha with the guards, she appears to glance to her side as if to look for some help. This looks like Martha is looking for help and as a result constructs another gender representation and makes the female character look weak and vulnerable, despite her facial expression.

Through the directors use of mise en scene, Martha also appears to be wearing more stereotypical masculine clothing. Martha is wearing trousers and a belt which is more readily associated with being male clothing. This shows the gender representation because in the scene, Martha is recognised as being one of the more dominant female characters within the extract. Judging by what Martha is wearing, it suggests that she might be one of the more dominant female characters because she is more masculine than the other female characters.

When Martha is walking into the room, the camera tracks from the left to the right and shows different hostages all exchanging worried glances with Martha. To capture more of the emotion of the characters a close-up is performed which enables the audience to capture more of the characters emotion and be less distracted by the surroundings and any other characters within the extract. From this it can be established that the majority of the female characters are looking quite fearful, whilst the male characters are looking upset and despondent, with their arms hanging loosely from their sides.

A representation of gender is shown through this because it looks as if the male characters are not so worried about the situation compared to the female characters which makes the female characters look weaker in the situation.

At the same time as this the director makes good use of the sound by adding some notes from a guitar in the background which sounds like it might have been performed in a Western film before a battle. This shows that Martha might put up a fight and gives more reason for her facial expression of confidence.

After the audience meet the hostages, the camera moves to the antagonist of the extract, The Master. A mid shot of The Master is taken at first from a low angle. Because The Master is captured from a lower angle, it seems like he is more powerful, and when we cut back to Martha she is captured from a high angle which makes her look small, and as a result it makes her look weaker. This shows the audience the representation of gender because the male is seen to be more dominant than the female in the situation.

Another method used by the director relating to mise en scene is the woman who stands by The Master in the red dress. It seems that the woman in the red dress is supposed to be representing her gender in a negative manner due to the way she is dressed. The colour and cut of her dress is supposed to represent that this woman may be getting used by The Master and that as a result she is insignificant and powerless in comparison. Once again, this highlights the issue of men being more powerful within the extract which is a point about the representation of gender.

There is of course also the traditional stereotype of people with blonde hair lacking intelligence, and thus this also represents the female gender in a negative manner, making the male gender seem better overall.

Also within the extract the representation of gender is shown through The Doctor. When The Doctor changes into a new form, editing is used to add the sic-fi effects which show glowing energy. The added special effects make The Doctor look more powerful which is representational to the male gender. Also, the way in which The Doctor rises is representational to gender within the situation. The Doctor rises with his arms outstretched in the way of which a god might. This of course demonstrates the actors power in the situation which is to a great extent, once again demonstrating gender and making the male characters look superior compared with the female gender.

There are also lots of shots taken of The Doctor taken close up so that he fills most of the screen. This emphasises the power of The Doctor, because he appears to be larger and so represents the male gender, showing that the male gender visually appears to be more powerful because of the camerawork.

Also the way in which the story unfolds, shows that a stereotypical male rescues a female from the evil male antagonist. This represents gender in the way that it is showing that females may be thought of as being weaker and the hero will always stereotypically be a male character because males are thought to be more powerful within the world of film.

There is also  plenty of evidence of shot reverse shots within the situation. Especially between Martha and The Master. The 180-degree rule is also applied here to not confuse the audience. The shot reverse shot involving Martha and The Master is representational to gender because when the camera is on The Master the pace seems to be faster which might portray that The Master is more powerful in the situation.

Overall, gender is represented in a number of ways by the director within the extract. The director does this through mise en scéne, camerawork, sound design and editing. The overall effect is that the male gender is seen as being more powerful in the extract, in control, and so the representation of the gender is clearly shown.

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