Adam Plummer presents ‘”Madonna of the Seven Moons”: Gainsborough Pictures, childhood trauma, and the pathologization of female desire’

Madonna of the Seven Moons 1

‘Between 1943 and 1947 the British studio Gainsborough Pictures produced a series of films that found commercial success in departing from the social realist subject matter that had, in the main, characterised British cinema during the early year of the war. The Gainsborough melodramas employed glamorous stars, elaborate costumes and sets, and escapist romantic storylines, to appeal to their predominately female audiences, and they paid unusual attention to female desire and female subjectivity.

Madonna of the Seven Moons, released early in 1945, occupies a central position in this series of films. In this paper, I explore how the film appropriates elements of contemporary psychoanalytic discourse that surrounded ideas of childhood trauma and schizophrenia. I examine how the film mobilizes these discourses as a means of interrogating and categorizing as pathological the transgressive and problematic sexuality of its main character, Maddalena, as how it therefore seeks to establish an ordering mechanism for its polarized ideological world-view.’

Thursday, 22 November, 6:00 pm, ArtsOne, Hitchcock Cinema.


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