Actress Paula Prentiss (The Stepford Wives, The Parallax View) and filmmaker and professor Dr. Allison De Fren will discuss the legacy and many readings of The Stepford Wives as part of the series Replacement Parts, a collaboration with Veggie Cloud.
Thursday, April 20th, 2017
7:30pm (Doors open 7pm)
The discussion will be presented first, followed by a garden intermission and then a digital screening of the film.
In the come-down years after the 1960s, many films explored a rising sense of dread that perhaps our lives, desires, and even our newfound freedoms, were not our own. The Stepford Wives (1975) based on the pulpy novel by Ira Levin, takes the dread genre to an upscale Connecticut suburb, where the women are uniformly compliant, sexy (in floral sundresses) and enjoy ironing. Katharine Ross plays the new wife moving to Stepford, and the tall, ever-witty Paula Prentiss plays Bobbie, her Virgil in the underworld of the robo-suburbs.
Prentiss, fresh off her harrowing and memorable role in The Parallax View, was never more vivid or witty than she is here, at play among the fembots. A 1970s white-privilege-feminism variant of a contemporary film like Get Out, The Stepford Wives remains a classic of the “men who build artificial women” genre, insouciantly funny-creepy (and, some might say, eerie-sexy) to this day. Pauline Kael felt that the film let women off the hook for participating in their own devaluing: “If women turn into replicas of the women in the commercials, they do it to themselves,” rejoining that “as a guilt-provoker for men, this picture may be peerless.” The discussion will be followed by a garden reception and a screening of the film.
As part of our evening, Greg Iriart will play LPs from his archive of ambient background music. Throughout the 20th century, entities such as the Seeburg Corporation and Muzak ("Specialists in the Physiological & Psychological Applications of Music"!) offered a range of moods and automated soundscapes to fill supermarkets, department stores and elevators, providing shoppers with reassuring sonic cues to buy, buy, buy. Thursday night attendees will experience first hand the joys of "Stimulus Progression" from the gardens surroundings of the Velaslavasay Panorama.
Replacement Parts is a series of screenings and conversations about face replacements, fembots, and those who build artificial companions. Featuring both narrative and documentary film as well shorts, animation, and "theatrical interjections," the series is a collaboration between Veggie Cloud and the Velaslavasay Panorama and will take place at both locations this spring and summer.