SOFIA COPPOLA AND THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AN APPEALING AESTHETIC
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This thesis grew out of an interest in the films of female directors, producers, and writers and the substantially lower opportunities for such filmmakers in Hollywood and Independent film. The particular look and atmosphere which Sofia Coppola is able to compose in her five films is a point of interest and a viable course of study. This project uses her fifth and latest film, Bling Ring (2013), to showcase Coppola's merits as a filmmaker at the intersection of box office and critical appeal. I first describe the current filmmaking landscape in terms of gender. Using studies by Dr. Martha Lauzen from San Diego State University and the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media to illustrate the statistical lack of a female presence in creative film roles and also why it is important to have women represented in above-the-line positions. Then I used close readings of Bling Ring to analyze formal aspects of Sofia Coppola's filmmaking style namely her use of distinct color palettes, provocative soundtracks, car shots, and tableaus. Third and lastly I went on to describe the sociocultural aspects of Coppola's interpretation of the "Sling Ring." The way the film explores the relationships between characters, portrays parents as absent or misguided, and through film form shows the pervasiveness of celebrity culture, Sofia Coppola has given Bling Ring has a central message, substance, and meaning: glamorous contemporary celebrity culture can have dangerous consequences on unchecked youth. In conclusion, this paper hopes to illustrate Bling Ring as another nuanced portrait of emptiness despite excess from Sofia Coppola, a female filmmaker whose techniques and visual motifs can be isolated and are indicative of the term “auteur.” Female filmmakers do not lack the ability or competency to be filmmakers, nor do they suffer a deficiency of stories to tell or visions to translate to film. They simply lack opportunity.