"God bless your hands!" Rape, Revenge, and resolution in I Spit on Your Grave (1978)

O'BRIEN, Shelley (2015). "God bless your hands!" Rape, Revenge, and resolution in I Spit on Your Grave (1978). In: Reflections on Revenge: A conference on the culture and politics of vengeance, Leicester, 4 September 2015. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The rape/revenge sub-genre has always been regarded as controversial by both critics and audiences alike. Films such as Last House on the Left (Wes Craven, 1972) still have the power to elicit powerful responses, but none more so than Meir Zarchi's I Spit on Your Grave. This film, which features an extremely graphic, violent and protracted gang rape prior to an equally violent revenge, is usually considered reprehensible, misogynist exploitation. Few academics have been prepared to defend it, and on the face of it this is an appropriate response. However, it must be noted that so-called 'exploitation movies' can often approach difficult subject matter in surprisingly complex ways. This paper, therefore, will present a close analysis and reappraisal of the film. It will also consider exactly how the film articulates a particular position on the subject of rape and revenge. Notably, the film was originally released as Day of the Woman - a title which more precisely flags up the real nature of the film (which a handful of recent critics have deemed feminist). Using a range of cinematic devices, Zarchi ensures that the spectator is always positioned with the female protagonist, Jennifer Hills - a crucial factor in terms of how the revenge is presented. Equally significant is how a planned, and very personal, revenge is shown to be necessary in order for Jennifer to achieve a physical and psychological resolution in the aftermath of rape.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Humanities Research Centre
Departments: Development and Society > Humanities
Depositing User: Shelley O'Brien
Date Deposited: 20 Apr 2017 10:21
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2017 05:58
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15357

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