By Frances Pheasant-Kelly
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Additional resources for Abject Spaces in American Cinema: Institutional Settings, Identity and Psychoanalysis in Film
Typically, classroom scenes show desks in orderly rows, while on the athletics field, the authoritarian Miss Collins enforces a rigid physical discipline as she choreographs and coordinates the girls’ bodies during fitness sessions. While exercising, the camera frames the girls at thigh level, a technique repeated frequently throughout the film, for example in the ‘shorts scene’ in the headmaster’s office and later, when Mrs White kneels before Carrie. The persistent low-level cinematography perhaps refers to notions of lower body strata that pervade the film, as relevant to menstruation, shit, hell and pig’s blood.
This spatial distinction is evident in the gymnasium scene where the black players assemble on one side and the white players on the other. Although there is a clear separation of the two groups, one white player, Lewie Lastik (Ethan Suplee), rushes over to join the black group, which regards him rather suspiciously. It is unclear exactly what accounts for Lewie Lastik’s lack of prejudice towards the black players other than that he is considerably overweight. While his size clearly marks him out as being different from the rest of his group, he seems to have other reasons for wanting to change sides.
What is interesting about Carrie in the context of Kristeva’s theological discourse is that Kristeva notes that ‘no attention is paid [within studies of the Bible] to the linguistic subject of the Biblical 41 ABJECT SPACES IN AMERICAN CINEMA utterance, nor by way of consequence, to its addressee. Who is speaking in the Bible? ’39 In Carrie, the ritualized recounting of the Bible by the mother literally positions her as a speaking (and implicitly paternal) subject. Furthermore, through her denial of sex and repression of desire, she represents the Virgin Mary, while in the final scenes she visually becomes a version of Christ.
Abject Spaces in American Cinema: Institutional Settings, Identity and Psychoanalysis in Film by Frances Pheasant-Kelly