Academic journal article Framework

Dear Diana- Daddy Film Treatment, 1972

Academic journal article Framework

Dear Diana- Daddy Film Treatment, 1972

Article excerpt

This section presents a series of documents: essays, reviews, treatments, and letters related to Daddy, Whitehead's explosive 1973 collaboration with the sculptress Niki de Saint Phalle. In order to show something of the gestation of the film, the sequence includes both Whitehead's own synopsis and the treatment Dear Diana. This was the first incarnation of what became Daddy and was intended to work as a semidocumentary focusing on de Saint Phalle's work as a sculptress. These texts are placed alongside review essays by Isabelle Jordan, Laura Mulvey, and Molly Haskell. Written at the time of the film's release, they are indicative of the absorption of feminist and psychoanalytic theory (particularly Lacanian psychoanalysis) into critical film discourse. In the case of Haskell and Mulvey, each critic has revisited the film and produced a piece for this edition of Framework outlining her contemporary response. These texts also compliment a new consideration of the film, similarly produced for this edition, by Joanna Bourke. The archive selection concludes with two texts by Whitehead: his "Notes on Daddy," which provides an account of the events surrounding the film's premiere at the 1973 New York Film Festival, and a 1974 letter to de Saint Phalle.

Dear Diana

Film Project for Tele vi sion.

Written by Niki de St. Phalle and

Peter Whitehead.

Directed by Peter Whitehead.

length approx 60 minutes.

16 mm. Colour.

Copyright © Narcis Publishing Ltd.,

18 Carlisle Street,

London. W.1.


January 1972

Notes on the Production

1. The film will use the sculpture, lithographs and monuments of the sculptress Niki de St. Phalle. The film will not be a mere documentary about her work. It is to be a film which continues her work into the broader spectrum of the film medium. It will take her work, and she herself in person, as the starting point for an exploration not only of the "World of Niki de St. Phalle," but also an examination of the problems (and pleasures!) of being not merely a Woman of today, but more important (in the language of the moment) a Liberated Woman. Miss de St. Phalle hopes to show how the problems of being so "liberated" have affected her work, her personal life and her views of the world of men she has to contend with. She is even prepared to admit to the pleasures of being totally unliberated when necessary.

2. The structure of the film inevitably suggests a "Pop Art Movie," and will be fast- moving, lighthearted, modern and funny, but it will nevertheless be perfectly serious in its attempt to show the complex social and psychological situations she has had to work through to become such a successful sculptress in her own right. For the art world is principally a world worked and operated by men. The rebellious nature of her work is in the tradition of its moment in history, but much of it springs directly from her conflict with a culture dominated by men. It expresses directly- but with much humour- a woman's vision of what it is to be such a woman facing all the problems of "liberation," financially, artistically, socially, sexually, morally etc. etc.

3. The title of the film suggests its structure. It will be composed of a series of letters, spoken on the soundtrack by Niki, to an unseen "other woman"- DIANA-who inspired the Nana sculptures ... who is apparently part of the Woman's Lib Movement ... to whom and with whom Niki is frank, revealing and honest- and ironic- about herself, her work and her "current problems" ... for example with her work, new exhibitions, dealers, buyers, lovers, ex- husbands ... and the problems of being filmed ("How can I tell the truth that last week I ... etc. ... I'll never admit THAT") ...

4. Each new letter will introduce a new subject, and each subject will be treated, on the soundtrack and visually, with a style and imagery appropriate to it. …

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