What Maisie Knew
TitleWhat Maisie Knew
DirectorBabette Mangolte
CountryUSA
Year1975
Duration1hr
Format16mm, Umatic video
DescriptionWhat Maisie Knew is a personal re-reading of the Henry James novel. Here the camera's presence and perception represent Maisie, a five-year-old girl who gradually becomes aware of how far her life is affected by the sexual relations of the adults she depends on. What we see is what Maisie sees, as well as how she sees it and what she thinks she sees - a series of beautifully controlled tableaux composed of various everyday situations in which the dominant theme is sexual interlacement. The threads can be seen but the pattern is not recognised. 'The child's look is at once innocent and corrupt; spying on sexual play but without sexual knowledge. The spectator is put in the position of Maisie, given a child's eye view, a position outside the knowledge. And this position is maintained, for without acquaintance with the book, it is unlikely that a coherent narrative could be constructed from the series of unconnected scenes and fragments of sound that make up the film.' (Pam Cook, Monthly Film Bulletin)