Riddles of the Sphinx
Great Britain | 1977, 92 min. | DoP: Diane Tammes | director and screenplay: Laura Mulvey, Peter Wollen | cast: Dinah Stabb, Merdel Jordine, Rhiannon Tise, Clive Merrison, Marie Green, Paula Melbourne, Crissie Trigger, Mary Maddox, Mary Kelly, Laura Mulvey
Laura Mulvey and Peter Wollen’s visually accomplished and intellectually rigorous Riddles of the Sphinx is one of the most important avant-garde films to have emerged from Britain during the 1970s. The second collaboration between Mulvey and Wollen, both of whom are recognised as seminal figures in the field of film theory, Riddles of the Sphinx explores issues of female representation, the place of motherhood within society and the relationship between mother and daughter.
Composed of a number of discrete sections, many of which are shot as continuous circular pans, the film takes place in a range of domestic and public spaces, shot in locations which include Malcolm LeGrice’s kitchen and Stephen Dwoskin’s bedroom. The film’s ground-breaking electronic score, by The Soft Machine’s Mike Ratledge, was composed on synthesisers which were developed in collaboration with Denys Irving (the man behind the mysterious and controversial 1970s band Lucifer).