The Woman Who Would Not Die

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Hsiu-chuan Lee

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Department of English, NTNU


This paper studies Krzysztof Kieślowski’s portrayals of woman in The Double Life of Véronique. It explores the dialectic between Kieślowski’s ambition to capture the essence of womanhood on the one hand, and his female characters’ survival qua signifiers of a constraining (masculine) cinematic metalanguage on the other. The first part of the paper explores how, through their disembodied voice, the female characters escape the specular and sound regimes of the film. The second and the third parts analyze the characters of Weronika and Véronique to demonstrate their “ex-sistence” (existing outside) or “exile” vis-à-vis the narrative symbolic of the film. Finally, I look at Kieślowski’s employment of alternative narratives and point out that his need to tell his story repetitively renders his film self-deconstructive in its attempt to express femininity. Briefly, this paper suggests that the male gaze/narrative of The Double Life of Véronique may, following the topographical logic of the Moebius strip, arrive at its obverse “surface,” showing the underside of a masculine cinematic language and casting into question an attempted male metalanguage.