Femme Fatale Film Analysis

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“There never was a woman like Gilda!” This American black-and-white film noir directed by Charles Vidor in 1946, starring Rita Hayworth, was showing indeed a new type of American woman: the independent femme fatale with a heart. The “film noir” is a “genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace. The term was originally applied (by a group of French critics) to American thriller or detective films made in the period 1944–54” (Oxford Dictionary). It usually includes the perspective of an antihero facing the violence of an urban and modern environment. The “femme fatale” is a stock character of noir films: “An attractive and seductive woman, especially one who will ultimately cause distress to a man who becomes…show more content…
This genre of films is exploited in Gilda as a way to explore alternative values, which makes this movie a rather innovative one in its focus on a strong female character struggling with patriarchal oppression. In this movie, gender roles are challenged and the men figures become as objectified as women. Indeed, Johnny is found on the pavement by Ballin who saves him from his condition, like he did for his wife. Both of them, Gilda and Johnny, were “born again” thanks to Ballin. It is clear that Johnny is here “placed in the position of the woman in patriarchy” (Dyer 118). Gilda objectifies men as much as they do objectify her when she tells a man that she met at the club that he is good looking: “Besides being pretty, you 're positively intelligent” (Gilda 47’52”) and later on, she repeats this compliment ironically to Johnny: “Good morning. How pretty you look in your night-gown” (Gilda, 53’). The spectator’s perspective is Johnny’s but here, he is victim of the female gaze and acts irrationally many times (irrationality being a traditional “feminine attribute”). The phallic symbol of the cane is feminized twice and illustrates another form of gender roles reversal. Ballin, Johnny and Gilda are discussing about its gender and the fact that “it suddenly becomes another” according to Johnny (Gilda 26’59”). The metaphor of reversal and change is incarnated by the carnival, which is a medieval tradition of inversion of…show more content…
When someone could see it as positive: Gilda and Johnny are equals now and will live happily ever after, some other could see it as rather depressing sign of Stockholm syndrome. Gilda ends her life with her molester. This movie is a Hollywood melodrama and finishes with a “happy ending” to respect puritan conventions. Family values are important: Gilda and Johnny will probably raise children together, which makes this film a typical “women’s picture”: “usually domestic melodramas emphasizing a female star and focusing on typical female concerns such as getting (or holding on to) a man, raising children” (Giannetti 477).The carnival is over, things have gone back to normality. The code Hays, which rated every movie made at the period, would not have allowed anything different. Men save the situation: Uncle Pio kills Ballin and the policeman is the one to tell Johnny that he can love Gilda now. Johnny has to receive the confirmation of Gilda’s faithfulness through another man. Gilda is unfortunately “not some kind of heroine of modernity” (Doane 2) but finally falls into the category of a woman whose manipulative moves were not made to get freedom but to be loved by a man. This is normality for a woman of that time period. Hollywood films were tools of propaganda for the American government who wanted to show normality and to demonstrate “American-ness”. They wanted to praise the American way of life as model to follow for the rest of

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