Open thread: what big eyes you have, my dear

Okay, so I was sick this weekend. Maybe sicker than I realized, because it sounded like a good idea to get out my series 1 DVDs of Robin Hood and listen to commentaries. It wasn’t.

Remember when I talked about creator Dominic Minghella insisting Marian was “stirred” by Gisborne, over objections from the cast? And then he said it again in promotional extras? Well, there’s something I didn’t mention from the initial commentary I was discussing: he said that Lucy Griffiths’ pupils dilated in the kissing scene. I dismissed this as a joke because all the Marian/Gisborne scenes he’s allegedly observing this in are dimly lit. Surely Minghella knows what pupils do when there’s not a lot of light, yes?

This time I caught him making the same remark in an earlier episode where he’s making the same argument. He says her pupils are dilated, and “I don’t know if that’s just acting, or…”

Or what? What’s he trying to say here? We all know you can’t voluntarily dilate your pupils. Please tell me he’s not teasingly suggesting that Lucy, not Marian, was actually turned on – with the other player in the scene sitting right there for the commentary? Please?

Because you know what? Richard Armitage’s pupils are dilated in those scenes, too, and I’m sure in that lighting the whole crew had dilated pupils too – hmmm, kinky! - but this doesn’t seem to merit observation from Minghella.

I realize that some observations about appearance that might be sexual harassment in any other industry are a normal part of the job for actors – male and female. But it seems that most male directors and producers reserve all their appearance-related comments for the actresses. (Yes, SG-1 fans, Peter DeLouise was a notable exception – he probably observed how good-looking Michael Shanks and Richard Dean Anderson were almost on parity with how many times he brought up Amanda Tapping’s “doe eyes” – gah, vomit.)

Comments

  1. Mel says

    WTF?!

    It is possible to dilate and contract pupils voluntarily (at least for me and some other people): basically, thinking of good things dilate, bad things contract. But a low-light situation would absolutely override any acting choices–if there were any, and why the hell would the actors lie? (And it would be a weird choice because it’s just not the kind of thing most viewers would notice.)

    I agree that this kind of creepy commentary from directors and producers is almost always directed at female actors, and in a much creepier way.

  2. Charles RB says

    Does he have a vested interest in Guy being uber-sexy or something? Because he seems a tad obsessed with proving it.

    All of which just makes me think of Guy of Gisborne from Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, the soppy mummy’s boy with an imaginary friend called Plop-Bob the Alien.

  3. Maria V. says

    Christ. Maid Marian was the only good thing in that series, and it seems like that happened ENTIRELY by accident.

  4. Robin says

    Well that’s… odd. I listen to a lot of commentaries (like, A LOT), and I’ve heard writers / directors / producers / whathaveyous say things I disagree with, but it’s never felt creepy like that. It sounds like maybe Minghella forgot that other people would be hearing it, or couldn’t conceive of anyone disagreeing with his perspective.

    It is fairly standard for filmmakers — both male and female — to comment on the attractiveness of their stars. As you mentioned, the SG-1 directors are pretty equal opportunity in their recognition of the cast’s physical attributes, as are Joss Whedon, Tim Minear, Matt Nix, Bryan Fuller… Maybe I just watch shows with better execs? And yes, it is still more “acceptable” to acknowledge an actress’s beauty before her talent than it is for actors (stupid double standard).

    I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent, but I hope it’s reminded you that Minghella is the exception, not the rule.

  5. says

    Does he have a vested interest in Guy being uber-sexy or something? Because he seems a tad obsessed with proving it.

    I think so, actually. The actor had a huge following, and I think the BBC was just beginning to realize that. DVD commentaries being a form of marketing, after all.

    It sounds like maybe Minghella forgot that other people would be hearing it, or couldn’t conceive of anyone disagreeing with his perspective.

    Very possibly he forgot. But dude, it’s being recorded. You work in media. You don’t have the luxury of “oops”. Think, then speak.

    As you mentioned, the SG-1 directors are pretty equal opportunity in their recognition of the cast’s physical attributes,

    No, I said “Peter DeLouise”, not SG-1 directors in general. Aside from Delouise, who pointed out Shanks’ looks and Anderson’s butt a lot (he does have a nice butt, seriously), it was “awww, doe eyes!” all the time.

    Furthermore, I even started to add into the post how badly Martin Wood creeped me out with his paternal “there there” soothing routine when Amanda Tapping gently but assertively pointed out that it didn’t seem necessary the way her breasts were carefully backlit and framed in one scene.

    I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent, but I hope it’s reminded you that Minghella is the exception, not the rule.

    I dunno. I haven’t watched any of the others you mentioned, so you may be right. I hope so. But still, an “exception” like that in most industries could definitely earn you a nice long chat with Human Resources about what sexual harassment is.

  6. says

    All of which just makes me think of Guy of Gisborne from Maid Marian And Her Merry Men, the soppy mummy’s boy with an imaginary friend called Plop-Bob the Alien.

    OMG, that needs to become available through Netflix immediately. ROFL!

  7. says

    It’s on Region 2 DVD, which my player can handle, but it’s like $94 through Amazon, and I’d like to rent it first, which I can’t, because Netflix doesn’t have region 2 dvds. I’ll check out the YouTube stuff, though! Thanks!

  8. Charles RB says

    Guy doesn’t turn up until Series 2. Though S1 does have this brilliant bit with the return of King Richard as the White-ish Knight.

  9. SunlessNick says

    Does he have a vested interest in Guy being uber-sexy or something?

    The man needs his love triangle, I guess. Maybe he’s disquieted at too many people liking Marian for Marian. Or given that Marian was forced into the “femme fatale” role a lot of the time, maybe he had an issue with a woman in that role showing both clarity and heroism.

    I can’t help wondering what this series would have been like if the cast had also been the producers; there seems to be an unusually large disconnection between what the two ensembles thought of the central characters (is it unusually large, or is it just unusually apparent?).

  10. says

    I can’t help wondering what this series would have been like if the cast had also been the producers; there seems to be an unusually large disconnection between what the two ensembles thought of the central characters (is it unusually large, or is it just unusually apparent?).

    Very interesting question. I’ve often wondered how much direction and restriction commentators are given by whoever’s distributing the DVD. Perhaps none, but it wouldn’t shock me, given how film actors sign contracts stating they can’t badmouth the film and must in fact find something positive to say about it in press junkets. It’s possible some casts/crews are under restrictions and others not?

    Or maybe this is just a lot more incendiary than, say, the controversy of Jack/Sam ship in SG-1, which got debated a bit in commentaries but never really *argued*. I say it’s more incendiary because if it weren’t for the military regulations, there’s nothing offensive about the idea of Sam being interested in Jack or vice versa – they’re both good people. But if someone has romantic feelings for someone like RH’s Guy, knowing he’s the sort of man who abandons his own newborn baby in the woods to die as an ad hoc form of birth control, you have to wonder if her brain’s okay.

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