The Femme Fatale

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Date Submitted: 09/21/2012 07:46 PM

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Zero to Hero?

Assignment No. _2B_

The Femme Fatale

The twentieth century saw the spate in action-films, depicting the main character as a stunning and conniving, ass-kicking babe. We all love to watch how the alluring Angelina Jolie or the s Mila Jovovich take on bad guys with such prowess. Yet, this character has a long way back in history since the film noir era, where she was known as the femme fatale.

According to Snyder (2001), the femme fatale, who is sexually prerogative and vicious towards males, originated in the film noir era in Hollywood from the 1940s to 1950s and continues in the 1980s till present day, as a popular icon. The femme fatale character evolved from a “duplicitous vixen” (Snyder, 2001) in film noir, to a sexy action heroine (Brown, 2009), as seen in recent films like Charlie’s Angels (2000) whereby Cameron Diaz, Lucy Liu and Drew Barrymore are featured as three capable, sexy and devious private investigators, ultimately aiming to fight crimes.

Albeit still sexy and cunning, the femme fatale in contemporary films seems to have made a progression in terms of her role in society-to achieve the greater good: either fighting for her rights, or to complete a mission, instead of exploiting sex to carry out unscrupulous acts. Yet, in light of all these progression, the femme fatale either proves to be increasingly dependent on her male counterpart to save her life (Hagedorn, 1994) or, is ultimately vanquished by him. Hence, the femme fatale has made a regression in her gender power but a progression for her role in society.

The Heroine

During the film noir era, the femme fatale was associated with all the vices in society. She committed selfish crimes and lacked moral values. Snyder (2001) exemplifies this by explaining how Barbara Stanwyck of Double Indemnity (1944) engages in murdering her husband and a salesman whilst having an affair with her daughter’s fiancé. As can be seen from Double Indemnity (1944),...