Recovering From Trauma in Paradise: Portrayals of Feminine Spatial Resistance in Top of the Lake

Rappoport, Rivka Nichols

A police procedural on its face, Top of the Lake explores how gender and sexism complicate interactions from the professional to the personal. All three female protagonists fight to make room for themselves in Laketop, where powerful men on either side of the law collude in yachts stalled on the open water. Jane Campion utilizes the mise-en-scène to establish certain settings as masculine and others as feminine, priming the viewer to notice the subtle ways in which gender roles can complicate even simple exchanges. Each of the three women resists being overpowered by the men of Laketop through the occupation or invasion of space. Using the detailed construction of settings to reflect gender differences, the series is sensitive to the ways gender roles govern the lived experiences of both men and women, while enlarging these conflicts to fill the landscape’s epic scope.



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More About This Work

Academic Units
Andrew Sarris Memorial Award for Film Criticism
Published Here
April 16, 2015


This senior essay is the recipient of the 2015 Andrew Sarris Memorial Award for Film Criticism, awarded by the Film Program of the School of the Arts, Columbia University.