Australian Screen

Australia’s audiovisual heritage online

We Aim to Please (1976)

play Coarse language – low ; Nudity
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Women’s image

This clip chosen to be PG

Clip description

The filmmakers draw the title of the film on their naked bodies. By throwing a tomato on the lens, they remind the viewer that all images are constructed. Taking control of their own image, they begin a wild ride into unexplored territory.

Curator’s notes

The opening of the film sets up the premise of women creating the image of women, in this case the filmmakers. Margot Nash and Robin Laurie use images of themselves looking into the camera as though it is a mirror. They directly confront the viewer by smearing make-up across their own faces. This is saying 'we own this image and we don’t care what you think’. The quote from John Berger’s Ways of Seeing (1972) that follows when they answer an urgent ringing telephone (sync close-ups of lips intercut between the two women) sets up the perspective of the whole film:

Women have been depicted in quite a different way from men, not because the feminine is different from the masculine, but because the ideal spectator is always assumed to be male and the image of woman is designed to flatter him.

In this clip’s final sequence, Robin Laurie hugs a blue body mould from behind while an extract from the soundtrack of Performance (1970, directors Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell) plays. As a female singer keen soulfully, Laurie caresses the dummy’s breasts and emerges painfully from behind its mask. It’s another example of the filmmakers’ creative use of sound in this clip. Compared to the whispering, giggling, drilling and unexpectedly exaggerated noises heard earlier (such as the harsh, scraping sound of marker pen on skin), the eerie soundscape from Performance supports the image on screen in more conventional, albeit arresting, fashion.

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australianscreen is produced by the National Film and Sound Archive. By using the website you agree to comply with the terms and conditions described elsewhere on this site. The NFSA may amend the 'Conditions of Use’ from time to time without notice.

All materials on the site, including but not limited to text, video clips, audio clips, designs, logos, illustrations and still images, are protected by the Copyright Laws of Australia and international conventions.

When you access australianscreen you agree that:

  • You may retrieve materials for information only.
  • You may download materials for your personal use or for non-commercial educational purposes, but you must not publish them elsewhere or redistribute clips in any way.
  • You may embed the clip for non-commercial educational purposes including for use on a school intranet site or a school resource catalogue.
  • The National Film and Sound Archive’s permission must be sought to amend any information in the materials, unless otherwise stated in notices throughout the Site.

All other rights reserved.

ANY UNAUTHORISED USE OF MATERIAL ON THIS SITE MAY RESULT IN CIVIL AND CRIMINAL LIABILITY.

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