Date of Award


Document Type

Union College Only

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies




film, rape, breillat, directed, films


This thesis focuses on rape and violence in film, and specifically why the use of violence in film directed by Gaspar Noé is distinct from the violence in film directed by Catherine Breillat. It also focuses on how both directors cope with the concepts of the gaze through which his/her films are viewed, the idea of shame that permeates rape and acts of violence and how each film impacts female viewers mentally and emotionally. The films chosen were Irreversible directed by Noé, and Fat Girl and Romance both directed by Breillat. In all three films women are violated and subjugated by men, not only during the rape scenes, but also throughout each story. Each rape scene was viewed within the context of the film, and as such becomes a complex and challenging commentary on the status of women in society. Through feminist film theory and close analysis of each film, stark differences are observed between not only how Noé depicts his main female character, Alex, but how he stages and shows her rape and how Breillat directs the same act, yet does so under different expectations. Breillat’s and Noé’s films must be compared through different lenses based on the fact that Noé has adopted the male perspective and Breillat has taken the female perspective, and thus represent different social experiences in the French, patriarchal society from which both directors emerged.