Tuesday, March 3, 2009

"Manic Pixie Dream Girl"

Jules and Jim was perhaps the most complicated love story I have ever seen. The Love Triangle is a very common element in those romantic comedies just because everything gets so jumbled and confused. Made of Honor is a very good example; Tom and Hannah are best friends, but Hannah has grown to really like Tom; however, she hasn’t ever told him because he has never shown any “love” interest in her. Well, that all changes when she goes off to Scotland for six weeks; Tom realizes that he actually loves her. It is too late, though. She has moved on and is going to marry a Scottish that she had met. Now both men are trying to hold Hannah’s hand.

Well, Catherine is in a very similar situation in Jules and Jim. I would even declare this movie as a love pentagon. We’ve got Jules and Catherine first getting together while Jim secretly admires Catherine. Then there are Jim’s girl back in France, Gilberte, and Jules and Jim’s best friend, Albert, who get caught up in the mix. This tangled and twisted love pentagon has one point of fixation, though: Catherine. I would say that she portrays the only cool ideas because she is the only one who gets what she wants in the end. Her character is trying to show how women can be cool; although, some of these ideas seem to be extreme. It seems women can be cool on two ends of the spectrum: they are either “just like the guys” or they are “confident women”. Catherine is “just like the guys”.

Independent and carefree, Catherine is very much like a pixie. She can play the part of a beautiful woman, as we see when she is first introduced as a dazzling, perfect image of a woman. However, the very next time we see her, she is dressing like a man and seeing if she can get away with it, like in the two songs, Shania Twain’s “Man, I feel like a Woman” and Superchic[k]’s “Anthem”. Both songs portray strong, independent, I-don’t-care women who go against society’s standards and do what they want. Jules and Jim just follow Catherine’s chaos, entranced by her siren’s song. They, and all of the guys who fall for Catherine, are drawn to her freedom and carefree attitude like moths to a light. Think of the Dark Phoenix (third paragraph) in X-Men 3; she is fun-loving and completely independent of other’s rules, but she also has a dark side, one that destroys all whom she loves, just like what happens with Catherine. Jim is killed, Jules is left with a broken heart and daughter, and Albert is left by himself. So, why are these features cool? In the beginning, they are cool. Catherine doesn’t care what others think; she doesn’t hold to the traditional roles women are supposed to play. Seeing a woman able to escape those societal chains is inspiring; you want to be as free as her. You want her joy.


  1. I think the comparison you made between the way men are attracted to Catherine and moths to a light is great. There is something very alluring about her freedom. Is she she cool because she's free? or is she cool because men are drawn to her?

  2. Moth to a flame is a great analog for describing the way we feel about Catherine. Why is it that we can't protect ourselves from getting burned as we near great loves like her?