26 – Doctor Who Textual Analysis

Discuss the ways in which the extract constructs the representation of gender using the following: camera shots, angles, composition, editing, sound, mise en scene.

In the extract there are four key characters to discuss in relation to gender. The first of which is the master.

The master’s costume is a suit but his shirt is untucked and his top button is un done. This represents how he is in control in this scene and has no one to answer to. He is comfortable in this environment and certainly holds all the cards at the start of the scene.

Furthermore at the beginning of the scene the master is seen in fairly wide shots that look up at the master which portrays his power and dominance in the situation. He is also on a raised platform at the start meaning he is literally above most of the characters and therefore looks down on them all. Overall the way the character is portrayed seems symbolic of a patriarchal dictator.

Editing wise the master also has the majority of screen time while he is still in power. However as Martha, the female prisoner starts to overcome him she begins to get more screen time than him. The screen time then basically stays on the character who is most in control which is first held with a man (which may seem stereotypical as it reflects patriarchal rule) but changes to a woman halfway through the clip till the doctor returns and then the screen time is dominated by him instead.

Other noticeable changes as Martha takes control include the music. Uptill the mid point of the clip the music has been fairly subdued but building up tension, but one the power shifts it becomes more intense and louder to reflect the story coming to a climax on the screen.

In addition the master starts to leave the raised platform as he loses control and walks down some stairs, albeit one point where in his desperation he returns to the platform in an attempt to regain his power. Also the mid shots and wide shots become more spaced out and instead are replaced by close up shots. These close up shots are mostly reaction shots that can show the expressions more easily and show the master starting to doubt himself and panic as the events unfold.

Martha starts the scene by being pushed by male soldiers who are much taller than her. In this way she looks physically weaker than the men behind her which conforms to gender stereotypes that men are soldiers and stronger than women.

However what does not conform to gender stereotypes is the costume design for Martha which is black and in a military style which altogether seems very masculine and helps to establish that she might be tough and capable.

At the beginning some of the camera shots are POV from the master so the shots look down on Martha which belittles her and makes her appear to have no control in the situation. In this way he demonstrates the way that the master thinks he is stronger than her and see’s her as far less than an equal.

Despite how Martha is undermined she seems to show no fear in the situation and yet again this does not conform to the gender stereotypes of women in films and tv. The way she is not fearful is almost foreshadowing of the fact that she has had a plan to overthrow the master and helps the audience to expect her to defeat the master.

It may be significant that Martha actually does not create the plan herself, instead she is simply following the instructions of the doctor. Her plan is therefore a male invention that a male has instructed her to do. It requires little intelligence on her behalf and the doctor could basically have got any other person to perform the plan instead.

As soon as the Doctor has returned from being a small aged and genderless creature Martha loses the majority of her screen time and the Doctor is shown a lot so that the audience know that he is the main hero at this point and the true hero is not Martha. At this stage the two main characters who are being shown are both men and the other characters only appear in reaction shots to what is happening in front of them.

The Doctor when he is restored floats into the air in  pose that resembles the pose that Jesus is often shown in. Once this is noticed there are many other references to religion within the scene. The events seem to reflect the armageddon and the rapture and also the master seems to represent the devil, the Doctor then represents Jesus or God and Martha and Jack are his faithful disciples. There is also a reference to prayer being Martha’s weapon and also all the events happen above the clouds so in a sense they’re in the ‘heavens’. A lot of christianity seems to centre around males rather than women so the references can definitely seem significant in relation to gender.

Also significant is Lucy Saxon, the woman in the red dress. The red dress suggests that the woman in trying to impress people and look seductive. However from the facial expressions of worry and unease she shows throughout the scene towards the master it seems more likely that the master has made the decision to dress her in this way to make her into a trophy wife of some form. She is objectified and shown to be completely obedient  to the master as all her attention is on him as she rarely speaks as well.

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