Experiments In Film: She Puppet (2001)

When it comes to experimental narratives, some ideas sound so terrible that it could by no means work, yet upon delivery and full realization it is something magical.  This is the case with Peggy Ahwesh's She Puppet which is merely a compilation of video footage from Tomb Raider video games spliced together in a non-linear way with voice overs from various feminist literature and poems.  Yet simplicity by no means encapsulates what She Puppet becomes, Ahwesh's work is profoundly reflective on the nature of humanity and the person hood of woman in relation to an existential existence and an indifferent world.  It realizes the cinematic possibilities of video games by exploiting the glitches and hidden corners of the game in a way that transcends its initial purpose, without completely detaching the game from its original meaning.  Furthermore, Ahwesh revises the entire nature of Tomb Raider by removing most of the sound and music from the film, a notable psychological element to video games.  As I have noted many times prior, I adore found footage filmmaking and it is clear that She Puppet is one such film, yet its method of finding footage is uniquely its own and as such serves as a brilliant piece of extremely unconventional filmmaking.

In a theoretical sense, She Puppet is brilliant.  It is clearly feminist in its composition, given the multiple narrators questioning of what role women play in a world that clearly oppresses them.  Such a commentary is furthered by choosing images of the video games protagonist Lara Croft being attacked by a multitude of enemies some being men and the other being natures predators.  It realizes the problems of female oppression in a grand way that is both clear, yet not so on the nose to lose its genius.  Furthermore, Ahwesh uses the previously mentioned glitches within the game to cause Croft to blend in with her scenery and float in the rivers as though she were part of the nature itself, this is done while commentaries about the narrator/Croft's ties to the world as a woman invoking a Gaia ideal.  Finally, and perhaps most profoundly, the film questions the relationship between the game and its player, invoking game theory, as well as what it means for the existential self to control another humanoid object in a godlike manner, especially when said object is a woman.  It not only delves into an even deeper level of oppression in terms of male/female relationships, but what possibility for feminist realization can come when a woman relates herself to the woman character she plays in a video game.  Ahwesh's film is quite ahead of its time, particularly given the increasing interactivity of video games in the recent years; her film is simply a prophetic study of all that such technological advances imply.

For more information on Peggy Ahwesh or to watch She Puppet click on the images below:

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