Role of the women in Volker Schlöndorff`s Homo Faber

Roleof the women in Volker Schlöndorff’s Homo Faber

Directed byVolker Schlöndorff, ‘Voyager’ (German: Homo Faber), is anEnglish film released in 1991 and adapted from Max Frisch’s novel,‘Homo Faber’ which provides a discourse on incredible coincidenceand fate. The film stars Sam Shepard (Walter Faber) as a peripatetic,sentimentally disconnected engineer who through a sequence ofprovidences and happenstances accidently experiences both tragedy andlove. Although the film develops in a series of fates andcoincidences, it manly revolves around a love affair, a theme thathelps develop the role of women throughout the film. The film startsin enigma and intrigues continuing with intelligence and absorbingthe viewers, which perhaps help demystify the critical role of womendespite revolving much around coincidences and fates. In thisregards, the discourse presented here will provide a context on therole of women in the film ‘Homo Faber’.

Role of women

Throughout the film, Faber creates an embroidered type of modernrationalist and technical man: factuality, impartiality, disconnectedand unemotional viewpoint. In this regards, Faber disclaims mythicalstructures of views desiring to see life in terms of mathematicalprospects and scientific principles. However, his involvement withIvy, an American woman at the onset of the film in a sporadicpersonal connection helps reveal the role of women in the film. Ivyexemplifies stereotypically the type of simulated femininity producedby the contemporary consumer economy. The film shows Ivy as a modelby career branded by consumerists’ terms thus, women acts asdrivers of modernist artistic imagination. In fact, the film showsIvy as an admixture of modernist and sexually devious prostituteseducing Faber against his will hence, Ivy reveals women as plyingthe role of fatalism.

In addition, thefilm shows Faber in interaction to three females i.e. Hanna, Ivy, andSabeth. Hanna functions as the vigorous counter-pole to Faber withinthe film’s representative structure, although Sabeth projects thesame representation but to a lesser degree. Hanna is an inhabitant ofAthens (linked to Western culture) and a philologist with greatinterest in art and mythology as do Sabeth. In this regards, womenact as the machinations of humanities to man’s technologicaladvancement. In fact, they act as embodiment of civilizations byreactivating the affiliation of the feminine with antiquated humanmemory. Perhaps the development and representation of art is the mostsignificant role of women in the film. While Hanna acts as theembodiment of humanity, philology, and logic, Sabeth helps promotethe development of art. Although the director focuses on thesignificance of art on the audience rather than the creators andoriginators of art, women help reveal the inherent importance of artin people’s lives. On the other hand, Hanna posits that art acts asan inherent human peculiarity, which helps reveal the role of womenas providers of artistic and humanity solace in times of guilt anddifficulties. In addition, women help to provide the sense ofconnection that art cultivates in people, a fact revealed when Waltermanages to revel in the mutual understanding of art after Sabethdeath. In fact, Walter perceives Hanna as a quintessence of age andthe physical, demonstrated, for instance, in his uncannily thoroughaccount of her hand as:

Overwrought and drooping, unpleasant, actually not a hand at all, butrather defaced, soft and scrawny and flaccid, wax with spots, nottruly ugly on the contrary, somewhat fragrant, but somewhatunfamiliar, something ghastly, something sightless

On the other hand, women play roles that represent the oppositeextreme of men as depicted by Hanna’s pride and her too-exclusivegrip on her daughter. Hanna confesses to Faber that she wanted a kidwithout a father, hers alone thus, demonstrates the self-sufficiencythat women develop in the film. In fact, Hanna’s rejection to loveand depend upon a man helps reveal the rebellion against nature aswomen that women in the film develop. In this regards, they act asindependent minds and representation of authority. Hanna acts as acapricious feminine capable of portraying intellectual and astuteelements. As such, women act as vehicles of authority andindependence that resist male domination despite man’stechnological advancement. Unknowingly, Sabeth helps reveal therealities of life that people so often experience. Sabeth meets withWalter and unfortunately develop an intimate relationship without anyof them realizing that they are daughter and father. In this regards,Sabeth show the incestuous affairs that happen when people fail toopen up effectively or hide some of the experiences they may have hadin life thus, helps reveal the tragedies of life. In fact, theincestuous affair between Walter and Sabeth echoes the account ofOedipus Rex thus, women help demystify the structures ofexploration, coincidences, and oddities.


As discussed in the paper, the relationship between Walter and thethree women i.e. Hanna, Sabeth, and Ivy helps develop the roles ofwomen as drivers and maintenance of love. Although muchdisentanglement occurs throughout the film, the women help denote thestructures of love and the perishability of experiences. In thisregards, women play significant roles throughout the filmspecifically as counterbalances of Walter’s technological alignmentand emotional detachment. They demonstrate the modernism, cultural,melodrama, and self-sufficiencies that women fail to demonstrate orplay along in most actual situations


Voyager.Academy Entertainment, 1991. Film.