Books and Movies Reviews

Women In Film Noir

In film noir, there are two archetypal portrayals of women; the whore and the Madonna. The whore is exposed as the dark, sexual and active spider woman out to seduce every man she meets, while the Madonna is a loving, caring virgin who posses no threat. As explained by Janey Place in Women in Film Noir, film noir is a male's fantasy where the sexual power and strength of women are visually expressed in film, both through the iconography of the image and through the visual style.
From the emergence of film noir in the 1940s, the dark, strong femme fatale is one of the main characters that is often longing for independence from men. Her world is seen as claustrophobic and hopeless, fashioned by strong contrasts in light and dark, off-skewed camera angels and atypical framing. A strong illustration of the classic spider women is Pris (Daryl Hannah) in Blade Runner. Unlike the male androids that use their strength as protection, Pris uses her sexuality to get what she wants. Through out the movie, she is fighting for her own freedom against the humans while being dominated by the male android, Roy. In one scene, she is seen dressed up a doll, paint covering her face and a chain around her neck. Disturbingly, she is portrayed as a sexual object subjected by, as well as a threat to males.
Along with a motivational stereotype of the femme fatale is a physical image. She is often seen with long blonde or dark hair, wears lots of jewelry, smokes cigarettes and has lovely long legs. By the use of composition, camera movement, angle and lighting, the beautiful seductress can be shown as a complete angel with underlying malevolent ideas. One example of the beautiful malicious women is shown in Curtis Hanson's L.A.Confidental (1997). Kim Basinger plays Lynn Bracken, a Barbie-doll prostitute whose main intentions are to seduce Officer Bud White. She is the idyllic, long legged, blonde, Veronica Lake look-alike'whore' of …


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