The Moral Male & Fatal Female: Dynamics of Morality & Gender in Film Noir an Introductory Essay and an Original Feature-Length Screenplay, Stalker Benjamin Sunday
AbstractThis creative project combines an essay with an original screenplay to further a critical analysis of the femme fatale, a seductive and villainous female archetype found within the film noir and neo-noir film genres. Upon examining the development of the femme fatale through the film noir classics of The Maltese Falcon (1941), Double Indemnity (1944), and Out of the Past (1947), as well as the neo-noir film Blue Velvet (1986), the essay exposes the genres’ preoccupation with internal moral conflict as a narrative focal point, as well as the genres’ tendency to deny the moral complexity of female characters. It is that tendency to portray female characters as one-dimensional femme fatales that ultimately prevents them from developing their own complete narrative contexts, separate from those of male protagonists.
In response, the original neo-noir screenplay Stalker reverses the typical gender dynamics of film noir by using a female main character. While the screenplay employs the basic plot structure of a film noir story by following a morally conflicted protagonist in the midst of a criminal investigation, the protagonist’s gender also makes the story a deliberate subversion of film noir’s genre conventions. As such, Stalker stands as both an homage to and critique of film noir as a whole.
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