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Gazing at Medusa

Adaptation as Phallocentric Appropriation in Blue Is the Warmest Color

Marion Krauthaker and Roy Connolly

Hélène Cixous’s liminal text ‘The Laugh of the Medusa’ calls for a challenge of traditional representations of femininity and prompts women to inscribe their hitherto concealed femininity into the world. Depicting the love, relationship and loss experienced by two female characters, Julie Maroh’s 2010 Blue Is the Warmest Color provides a narrative sustained by a reclaimed matrixial gaze that challenges patriarchal definitions of women. Whereas the original comic book acts in concert with Cixous’s perspective and seeks to assert the infinite richness of women’s individual constitutions, the 2013 film adaptation by Abdellatif Kechiche presents a different economy. This article analyses how, in contrast to Maroh’s original, the filmic adaptation discounts the feminine stance, develops a heteronormalised take on the same story and could therefore be read as promoting heteronormative leitmotifs and fantasised clichés of lesbian subjectivity and sexuality.