New Readings of the Femme Fatale
(2016) New Readings of the Femme Fatale, no. 28.
Introduction (part): The 1st of January 1941, The Maltese Falcon was released in American theatres. This film is often considered to be the first of an important and popular cycle of films produced in the 40's and 50's. More than five years later, the French critic Nino Frank referred to these films as 'films noir'. The term 'noir' - 'black' literally in French - relates to the darkness, fatalism and amorality of those films, in a post-war 'gloom' context. Although its classic era ended a long time ago, film noir still exists today with neo-noir (Root and Neale 2007, Neale 2000). One of the most symbolic traits of many film noirs is the presence of the femme fatale. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the evolution of the notion of femme fatale. To what extent the notion of femme fatale challenges gender representation? How does it confront notions of male dominance? How to this relate to the male and female's gaze? How are the gender fantasies represented and confronted?