Vanity Fair

Seductive, sacrificial, martyr are all characteristics that define Becky Sharp in Mira Nair’s Vanity Fair. Characters in this adaptation are heroes; they have spines and are quite unlike the one dimensional characters in the written form of Vanity Fair. Besides the behavior which transforms Becky and Amelia to victims of wartime and gambling, there are signifiers in dress, decorum, and music. Becky is assigned the color red, she is most striking, or seductive, when dancing or singing which allows Becky more freedom while constraining her at the same time. There is juxtaposition in the film between the idea of freedom and entrapment, this idea that no matter what the class distinction there is still the idea of an overarching patriarchy. Becky is free because she has choice but this choice she gains within the salary of the wealthy benefactors she meets along the way. In this way, Becky Sharp is objectified because she becomes a purely sexual object in the realm of wealthy society. The extravagances in her dress, which contrast the other women who are almost always dressed in white, offset her deviant nature which is quite outside society. In Mira Nair's film, Becky becomes are purely sexual object, which is helped with the colorful motifs that relate more to an Indian culture than to the English culture that focuses on propriety and manners.
What is interesting in the film is the way Becky is used to fight sexual objectification in her clever ways of using the gentleman and also the way she is portrayed in the end as a matryr. The end explains it all with the choice to end the film right at India, which appears to be Becky's goal throught the film. Atleast, that is how it seems with the bright colors and wondrous peacocks that make their way through the film. In the film it seems as though Becky's ending is deserved, that she has earned her place by Joseph Sedley's side. Her migration from England to India is just another way of saying that she was too much of an outsider to exist within that society so the solution was to displace her within in a culture where she could fit in. Her evil nature is completely misunderstood as somebody who does not fit in so forget all those hideous portraits of her in darkness slowly killing her husband. In the ending it is also interesting to see how irrelevant Amelia's life is. It was kind of the screenwriter to give her a bit more character but in doing so they had to cut her significantly from the plot. Amelia is no longer the poor innocent angel, she is a slightly boring young woman who follows along the plot.
Becky, instead, drives the plot and runs it along with her ambitious, not to say malevolent, desire to get ahead in life. She is a tease, a wonder and talent to look at which is why in this film Becky is the victim. She is too much objectified to be protagonist because she is the manipulater and the manipulated in the great scheme of playing men off to gain a fortune.
Now that the themes have been established its important to see how filmic techniques were used to create such a visual. Color has already been discussed as a means to show Becky's deviance from the social norm, and also the means in portraying India as the other culture that dimly exists within England. Thus, color is used to portray a progression, to show that Becky does not fit the norm that exists with all the women wearing the extremely familiar white gown that offsets her blood red. Besides color, even the camera is used in a way to objectify Becky and make her into a sexual object. One shot goes to show her looking at herself through the mirror while her husband stands behind her. Many of the shots focus first on the breasts, on the hands and the whole portrait of her body instead of her face. Men are seen always in the full body shot in a way that reflects their economic superiority. Becky is always dressed in extravagance and the men always dressed impeccably as if there's no other way to stand next to Becky. Even the soundtrack and dance have Indian undertones and Becky's dance spoke more of the nature of women and the dance in Pride and Prejudice than it does elsewhere as compared to other 19th Century related films. In all, Becky is an overtly sexual object, and is used by women and men as a means of spectatorship and objectification which is portrayed through filmic techniques.

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