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Discuss the Way Women Are Presented in Film Noir and How Neo-Noir Women Challenge the Original Femme Fatale.

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Megan Morgan Independent Study Discuss the Way Women Are Presented in Film Noir and How Neo-Noir Women Challenge the Original Femme Fatale. When looking at more modern takes of film noir, the women certainly challenge the ideologies of what a typical femme fatale would represent because of what drives them. Assessing proto-noir based films; the women were stereotyped and were believed to challenge the pressures that regular women endure on a daily basis. Typically of an American proto-noir the films had hidden agendas and aimed to teach political lessons to those that took interest. A lot of the time in the films, it was projected that sexuality lead to crime and those that involved themselves in deviant acts would be punished, which most of the time the men would end up in jail and the femme fatale character would be killed. However, in a sad twist, the 'good guys' would die and the criminals would win. In film noir the characters are often very clear cut and in the plot there are often psychological twists, like that of in the neo-noir film 'The Last Seduction'. ...read more.


One opposition that would never usually be seen in proto-noir were same sex relationships. However a neo-noir film called Bound, challenges gender alignment and the capability of women. The film is driven by sexual fantasy or desire which is reflected in the relationship of 'Corky' and 'Violet'. Gender is inversed by both members of this relationship and this is what is known as homoeroticism. There is an erotic exchange between the two characters as they engage in arousing one another in quite graphic scenes which unlike in proto-noir, sexual behaviour was insinuated not performed. In proto-noir, sex is substituted with violence. 'Violet' is no shrinking violet. Her hyper- femininity is pushed to the maximum with the way she speaks in her overly high pitched voiced right down to the way she dresses. All of her clothing over-emphasizes her femininity, almost to the point where it becomes apparent to the audience that she is desperately trying and portraying an image of a 'butch femme'. Her dresses are short and her heels are very high. She almost has the look of a 50's pin-up. ...read more.


Both are quite slim with petite facial features. They both have wants and sexual desires, and 'orgasmic femme' is a staple of neo-noir. Perhaps economic power is a major influence on the women, and although Corky seemed to be struggling in the beginning, she and Violet seem to get their hands on Cesar's cash. Wendy on the other hand has succeeded in pushing all the men out of her life just to get a hold of some money. Violet, like Wendy has an inadequate husband but unlike in Mildred Pierces case, the women flee the marriage which indicates the independence a woman has gained with the help of the feminist movement. Over the years the force and persistence of women became the destroyers of male domination which can be traced back to the war time reassignment of roles both at home and at work, women substituted the role of men which challenged the patriarchal and hegemonic values of society. The changes can clearly be seen in noir films and in the rise of femme-fetale characters over the years. ...read more.

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