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Monika Treut's 1988 film, Virgin Machine, offers a playful, self-ironizing look at the construction of sexual identities, utilizing the techniques specific to the filmic medium to create cuts and bridges between concepts, characters, and locations. In its portrayal of the passage and passages of the story's central character, Dorothe Muller, the film takes the viewer on a voyage of self-exploration and self-discovery that moves from one harbor city, Hamburg, and ends in another, San Francisco. The move between harbor cities carries associations of commerce and exchange, arrivals and departures, as well as the potential for import and export of goods and values. A harbor is a place in constant motion and symbolizes a condition where movement and mutability serve as the ground for existence. Connected to the harbor as a metaphor for dynamic movement and change, the trope of crossing implied in Dorothe's voyage is linked to another kind of crossing that the film's title suggests, the crossing of virgin and machine. This hybrid term in itself introduces the play of mixing and separating that runs through the entire film.

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Copyright © 2000, University of Northern Iowa, Department of Political Science. This article first appeared in The European Studies Journal 17:1 (2000), 23-40.

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