Sunday, 17 March 2013

Martha Marcy May Marlene

The dark side of male dominated life is portrayed in a film with the title Martha, Marcy May Marlene. Whereas I enjoyed Wanderlust I remain unclear about the purpose of this film except if the intention is to expose the harm that can be caused by a cult based on male sexual domination and violence. The film is intentionally messy switching from the present to the past in flashbacks, in part to communicate that the main character Martha is disturbed possibly paranoid and hallucinatory.


After having disappeared from the life of her conventionally married sister she telephones from a diner and goes to live  with the couple only saying that she had lived with someone which did not work out and she needs help.


There are two incidents which communicate to the sister and husband that Martha is not normal. The first is when by a lake on a hot day and a swim is suggested, Martha goes into the water naked which shocks and appears to threaten the sister. Separately when the couple are having sex in bed Martha attempts to join them. These actions intend to convey that Martha is not normal and has experienced trauma whereas in reality they may be more common and natural than is generally presented by the media.


However the film reveals that indeed Martha had been the subject of a traumatic experience. At one level the film presents Martha as a normal white American middle class girl who has the misfortune of meeting the lead member of a cult living on a farm seeking to be self sufficient and that almost immediately on arrival she is drugged and raped and effectively imprisoned by the group who addition to working the farm go in for nude bathing and group sex. She comments that all the children are male and is told that he leader only has boys. The group have guns and at one point the leader tells Martha she too has the making of a leader and is told to prove her ability by shooting a cult and then shooting another cult member.  She is seen as preparing another new female recruit to be drugged and raped and other scenes where with others she breaks into a private home to steal valuables. She is also shown attempting to leave and being pursued. There is a lot of sinister implication which remains ambiguous. In fairness the film may have also said that Martha was something of a rebel within her family and therefore more vulnerable to exploitation.


While the sister attempts to help directly the husband demonstrates another aspect of male insensitivity by demanding that she leaves their home and gets professional help. The film ends with the girl being taken to facility while it appears she is being watch although this may be a hallucination.


My objection to this film that is lumps being drugged and raped and breaking into private homes with swimming naked, group sex, and attempting to be self sufficient, rejecting the tyranny of governments and international capitalism as being part and parcel of the same thing. It is the kind of propaganda which some elements of the USA society will fund and promote through sympathetic media. If the film had concentrated on showing what can happen when men remain the dominant power in any society I might have reacted differently.

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