One of the many reasons MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is so successful as an action film is the editing style. By using “Eye Trace” and “Crosshair […cut for length]
It occurs to me that one of the reasons Mad Max is so remarkably effective at eschewing the male gaze may be because of this approach. If you listen to this pre-release talk by the cinematographers, he talks about how challenging it was for him to follow Miller’s edict to keep the centre on whatever was meant to be the focus of the scene because, and this is from memory and it’s a two hour talk, ( but I think it’s in the first twenty minutes or so, and he says it twice, so if anyone wants to go check?) his instinct was to include the beautiful girls in the back of the cab.
Like, he literally mentions how gorgeous Rosie Huntington-Whiteley is, and how it went against all his instincts to leave her out, even though the scene was supposed to be about Furiosa, or Max.
And I think we the viewers noticed that.
As someone who has no training in film or video, I would have to see some counter-examples, to see how not-on-center more conventional cinematography is. And to see some more exploration of what it has to do with male (or other) gaze.
Most film composition and photography composition is off-center for visual interest. Specifically they aim to hit one of the golden ratio ‘points of interest’, all you have to do is google “Golden Ratio” or “Rule of Thirds” and the word “composition”. This is the golden ratio:
The blue lines are where it would appear on a rectangle the ‘points of interest is roughly where the lines cross perpendicular. You can ‘cheat’ by using ‘thirds’ (black lines) instead of the golden (blue lines) REMEMBER THESE POINTS:
This is (mostly) center frame:
This is more classically composed:
You can see especially how she literally shifts from one point of the golden ratio to another. Your eyes are immediately drawn to her eyes. (San Andreas trailer which is mostly clean of male gaze)
Max is, as a still shot, in comparison more ‘boring’. Your eyes aren’t ‘led’ anywhere. There’s nowhere for it to go…which is a good thing because your attention needs to be about right there because Max is going to nearly get his head taken off.
And then you have the Age of Ultron trailer. (Fuck you Marvel):
If you’re framing this by the golden ratio, one of the points of interest is at her eyes, the other is her cleavage. I BARELY HAD TO GO 20s INTO THE TRAILER.
Why don’t we get Steve’s cleavage?
Why don’t we get Tony’s cleavage?
Both their eyes are at the sweet spot of the Golden Ratio.
Natasha’s head and ass are too, however.
Red Witch’s chest instead of her face….
See how there’s almost no headspace for Natasha:
The focus here is literally NOT on her face, it’s on Natasha’s chest and hips
Compare for yourself to how much the frame is centered on the face/eyes of the men instead of, say, their nipples or their crotch. The lone exception is a brief shot of Thor.