The Trouble With Norma

Graham Rawle

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference proceeding with ISSN or ISBNConference contribution with ISSN or ISBN


    This article describes Woman’s World’s transition from illustration to literature and now to film. The film is an adaptation of my collaged novel, Woman’s World, which was assembled from fragments of text cut from vintage women’s magazines. The film will be similarly collaged from thousands of clips taken from British movies, TV, adverts and documentaries from the 1940s, ‘50s and ‘60s—re-edited to create a narratively coherent transformative work. Multiple layered cut-outs will suggest a ‘moving collage’ rather than a traditionally made film.

    In this essay, I discuss the inherent difficulties in portraying the central character, a cross-dressing man, as both a man and a woman (Roy/Norma) and how the film’s unique collage method can help to facilitate this. Balancing the complex embodiment of two visibly different genders/personas within a single on-screen character is a challenge in live-action film, but here the method of construction allows the on-screen transitions between Roy and Norma to be more elegantly managed. Fleeting dissolves, where the ghost of Roy’s face might appear briefly on Norma’s (or Norma’s on Roy’s), and confused or fragmented collage assemblages can reveal brief involuntary exposure of the suppressed other self, which also hints at the fragility of the projection.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBeneficial Shock!
    Subtitle of host publicationThe Fully Illustrated Movie Magazine
    EditorsGabriel Solomons
    PublisherBeneficial Shock Ltd
    Number of pages4
    Publication statusPublished - 15 May 2018

    Publication series

    NameBeneficial Shock!
    ISSN (Print)2399-5173

    Bibliographical note

    Commissioned by Gabriel Solomons/Philip Wrigglesworth


    • Film collage
    • gender roles


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