Essay Example on American culture after World War Noir french Film

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The representation of woman in film noir and the notions of sexuality gender roles and the structure of the family that were characteristic of the American culture after World War Noir french film noir is a cinematic term applied to the Hollywood crime dramas of the 1940s and 1950s which capture the atmosphere of pessimism mistrust frustration and cynicism typical of American society during World War II war and the first years of the Cold War The term black film or film noir was first used in 1946 by the French critic Nino Frank to designate a style that gained popularity in American cinema in the mid 1940s It is characterized by a criminal plot a dark atmosphere of cynical fatalism and pessimism blurring the line between hero and antihero relative realism of action and dark lighting of scenes usually night scenes Women usually act as false characters that cannot be trusted on the other hand they motivate the main male characters or they are represented as a perfect wife which is silent and submissive Femme fatal The image of a fatal woman or femme fatale a seductress whose charms are dangerous for a man paralyzes his will and allows a woman to use it for her own purposes this is one of the archetypes of world culture and mythology Eva and Lilith Salome and Cleopatra sirens and succubus they can all be called fatal

They are united by the ability to use their feminine nature their sexuality as a weapon that allows them to dominate over fascinated men Femme fatale is as a symptom of a typical male phobia about a woman as a creature capable of scolding and swallowing the victim of the opposite sex The image of femme fatale in the cinema appeared in the 1910s At the initial stage of the development of cinematography fatal women remained surreal semi mythical creatures eternally young eternally desired and eternally dangerous not only for others but for themselves Another element of the image is an obligatory raid of insanity It seems that this is the only way to explain the coolness courage and cruelty of such girls John Blaser write The quintessential femme fatale of Film Noir uses her sexual attractiveness and ruthless cunning to manipulate men in order to gain power independence money or all three at once She rejects the conventional roles of devoted wife and loving mother that mainstream society prescribes for women and in the end her transgression of social norms leads to her own destruction and the destruction of the men who are attracted to her Blaser John Film Noir s Progressive Portrayal of Women UC Berkeley Online http www lib berkeley edu NMC noir pp all html 23 April 2003 In the 40s fatal women flooded the screens The image of femme fatale noir rather sent more to the brutal vamp of Ted Bar A Fool There Was 1915 rather than to the tragic heroines of European silent movies

A classic fatal woman uses her sexuality to manipulate a man and thereby achieve her goal of wealth independence or both She rarely becomes a victim of her own feelings and often only portrays them as the heroines of the films Double Insurance Lady of Shanghai and From the Past That image of the fatal woman who hides her inner emptiness always so powerful and dominant gives such strength and sensuality that she easily manages to subjugate the hero who remains enchanted to her until the very moment of her destruction However the woman herself becomes a toy in the hands of the higher forces The appearance of so many vivid images of femmes fatales in noir films is not accidental it was a response to changes in the structure of the family and the distribution of gender roles in America in the military and post war years As Pam Cook has claimed the femme fatale was born out of the historical need to re construct an economy based on a division of labour by which men control the means of production and women remain within the family in other words the need to reconstruct a failing patriarchal order Pam Cook Duplicity in Mildred Pierce in Women in Film Noir ed Ann Kaplan London BFI 1978 The nationwide mobilization during the war led to the fact that many women took the place of men in production

The woman working for the good of the country whose image was most vividly embodied in the new cultural icon For a few years the idea of a woman as a keeper of the home has changed Nevertheless many saw in this change of gender roles a threat to the institution of the family which in the American culture of those years was practically sacralized With the end of the war the media and public figures began to press hard on women who did not want to leave work and return to the bosom of the family The need for universal labor for the good of the country has disappeared it was time for women to take their place again Obviously this situation firstly should have given rise to a certain crisis of gender identity in women Secondly the emancipation that was spurred on by the war clearly frightened the men who were accustomed to their dominant role within the framework of the patriarchal social order GOOD WOMAN The dangerously attractive woman is more beautiful but she s not the only feminine old example in the world of film noir Over time in the films noir alongside the fatal woman appears its opposite a good woman As a rule she is in confrontation with famme fatale and offers the hero to escape from the sexual The world of a good woman contrasts with the image of a femme fatale and the world of noir films in both visual and narrative style



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