1 April 2014

Bradford International Film Festival: The Gold Diggers (1983)

Drama, Music,
Bradford International Film Festival
Review Date:
30th March 2014
Sally Potter
Julie Christie, Colette Laffont, Rose English

To say that Sally Potter’s The Gold Diggers defies categorisation is a safe assertion to start with. While trying to describe the film in a way that is both apt and concise is a skill that alludes me. Therefore, the easiest option remains in quoting Potter herself: “I see the film as a musical describing a female quest. Making it has demanded asking the same questions during the working process as the film endeavours to ask: about the connections between gold, money and women; about the illusion of female powerlessness; about the actual search for gold; about imagery in the unconscious and its relationship to the power of cinema; looking at childhood and memory and seeing the history of cinema itself as our collective memory of how we see ourselves and how we as women are seen.”

The Gold Diggers continues in the same vein as Potter’s short film Thriller, questioning the role of women in art. This time her deconstruction is centred on Hollywood, her two central characters, Celeste (Colette Laffont) and Ruby (Julie Christie), out to discover the truth of their identities. Through its experimental spiral structure, the film hops from genre to genre, showing the role of the heroine in cinema – “silent movie stars with their language of exaggerated gesture; the Hollywood belle descending the archetypal ballroom staircase; the film noir mystery woman, an enigma even to herself,” – while at the same time subverting that role and undermining the dominant Hollywood stereotypes. The Gold Diggers will forever remain a key film of feminist cinema, an elliptical masterpiece that will surely reveal more of its pleasures with each subsequent viewing.


Shane James

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