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OUTRAGE

USA, 1950 (MIFF 1996, Ida Lupino - Director)

Director: Ida Lupino

For a film on the then taboo of rape, Lupino's| Outrage opens breezily enough. It's book­keeper heroine Ann (Mala Powers) has a fiance, whose raise assures her happy integration into the life-style of her community, Ann's future seemingly predestined in scenes of family dinners, engagement announcements and effusive ring-admiring enthusiasm.

The rape changes all of this, radically and overnight. The slow ascending withdrawal of the camera from the actual rape not only places the event in the larger social context of the unheeding city, it also locates it in the recesses of Ann's psyche. The negatively charged blank it leaves at the film's centre is also in Ann's mind the rape cannot be recorded as it cannot be assimilated (even its immediate sequel, Ann's stumbling walk home, is symptomatically dislocated, appearing totally out of sequence under the opening credits)

The post-rape scenes have a spaced-oul feeling, the specifically subjective hallucinatory effects (the increasing volume of an office; worker's pounding rubber stamp, the certiginous montage of the police lineup) often less strange than the suspended animation of the town—half-imagined, half-real. Guilt veers from man (Ann as damaged goods), all reactions quivering with a funeral, almost squeamish unease.

The 'therapeutic' second half of Outrage presents quite a contrast to the first, prefiguring the Lupino-starring. On Dangerous Ground in its city/country split. The menacing glances of the city are here defused, defetishised, through the medium of the pipe-nursing minister Doc (Tod Andrews), Ann's newfound intercessor and shock absorber. Yet a strange ambiguous poetry of sublimated sexuality pervades the country scenes the outward gliding movement of the camera among the slowly turning dancers like soft dream-projection of Ann as, drawn to yet fearful of the involvement, she skirts the periphery. (RS)

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