Nothing of the sort: Barbara Loden's Wanda (1970)

Cristina Alvarez Lopez, Adrian Martin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


American Barbara Loden has become a figure of screen myth: actress, model, wife of Elia Kazan, teacher, and writer-director of a sole, remarkable feature film, Wanda (1970). Dead in 1980 at the age of 48, Loden and her film, despite gaining sporadic, passionate attention around the world, largely fell outside of
most film histories, even feminist film history. Is this because it is a film about a proletarian character (played by Loden herself) who is passive, alienated, mostly non-resistant to male manipulation and abuse? Wanda raises complex issues of self-portraiture in cinema: Loden both is, and is not, mirrored in her character. Often mistaken for 'artless' or purely 'direct' film-making, this analysis seeks to uncover the rigorous principles of performance, scripting and mise en scene
that underpin Wanda and make it such an overwhelming, uncompromising and incomparable monument of cinema.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)43-49
Number of pages7
JournalCinema Comparat/ive Cinema
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2015


  • Women's cinema
  • feminist theory
  • Barbara Loden
  • Wanda
  • mise en scene
  • acting
  • self-projection

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