She shoots! She scores! : the musical portrayal of female violence in recent Hollywood film

Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 1999
Thesis identifier
  • T9638
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • This thesis examines the importance of the musical score in creating a film's meaning, through an analysis of the musical scores to several recent Hollywood movies. To show how film music is ideologically loaded, this thesis takes the case of the new, ultra-violent film (anti)heroine and demonstrates how the musical score works to explain, excuse or undermine her violence so that she can remain situated within the standard gender codes of Hollywood film. To do this, the theoretical section first discusses issues about the representation of femininity and the pleasures of movie violence, and then continues with a discussion of theories of musical meaning, both within and without film scores. The analysis section examines the scores to several well-known mainstream Hollywood movies, dividing the heroines into either action heroines or fatal femmes, to show firstly how these women potentially transgress gender codes, and how the music is employed - along with other filmic elements - to lessen the threat of the female character's transgression. It examines the presentation of women as mothers, victims, lesbians and jezebels - all of which roles act to frame the active heroine within some acknowledged stereotype. Finally, the thesis addresses the question of how specific this phenomenon is to Hollywood, by examining the scores to a test-case French film and its Hollywood remake. Through the analyses contained within this thesis, I show how violent Hollywood women are still subject to ideologies which position women as passive and specifically as non-violent, and that the musical score is a particularly effective means of neutralising their potential transgression of gender norms.
Resource Type
Date Created
  • 1999
Former identifier
  • 565180