52 Films by Women – Three Examples of Myself as Queen

19. Three short stories by Anna Biller, whose latest film The Love Witch is currently winning acclaim on the Festival circuit. Biller writes, edits, designs the costumes, provides the music, directs, and occasionally stars in her own movies. She uses classic forms of cinema to tell stories about women’s roles in popular culture, all firmly located in the aesthetics of 1950s’ melodrama through their use of Technicolor and retro stylings. Though The Love Witch may prove to be her breakthrough movie she’s been working on short films and made her feature debut with in 2007 with Viva. In this 28 minute short film Biller creates three different musical narratives all built around herself as a woman being the subject of adoration.

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In the first story ‘The Queen’s Sad Life’ Biller plays a melancholy Arabian Queen sitting alone in her palace. The set design recalls big epic Hollywood productions from the 40s’ and 50s’ when studios would greenlight movies based on stories from the Arabian Nights. She is visited by a Rajah who asks her why she’s so sad when she has everything she could want. The Queen describes the repetitive nature of her life in the palace, the isolation, the feeling of missing out on other things. The Raj admits he feels the same but then scolds her for asking difficult questions about the nature of existence. She turns to her consorts for comfort and they perform an old-fashioned song and dance number called ‘Let Us Dance’ to make her feel better.

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In the second, ‘The Queen Bee,’ Biller plays an exhausted queen bee who is on the search for a place to build a new hive with her colony. Her followers describe potential locations for a new hive but none are suitable until the last member of the swarm returns and describes a place surrounded by flowers. In their new hive the worker bees all sing a song praising her as “the loveliest of bees.”

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The final story, ‘The Queen Poinsettia,’ is set in the 60s’ as Poinsettia (Biller) and her friend Buttercup attend a house party together. There’s a live band present singing a song whose lyrics seem to be about a man pressurizing a woman into sex. “Please say yeah, oh don’t say no, yeah, no.” Poinsettia is so into the music she doesn’t notice she’s now the only woman there and Buttercup has left without her. The guys begin to come on strong so she runs from the house, but they follow her. When a handsome hero turns up on a white horse and saves her from harm the story turns into a fairytale. Poinsettia asserts her authority over her attackers by assuming the role of fairy queen and using “mystification” to turn them into dogs. Then she leaves them all behind,  including the now crestfallen hero, and escapes towards towards her castle in the sky.

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