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Embodiment of Gendered Experiences: Representation of Gender in Double Indemnity

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This annotated bibliography sets a platform of understanding and research which can further complement the arguments made for the chosen statement. Delving deep into the depths that the movie has to offer allows us to understand and critically analyse how Billy Wilder’s ‘Double Indemnity’ represents gender, and to establish the significance of the theme to the overall plot, defining the characters and an underlying motivator of their actions. Bronfen and Grossman both provide an understanding of gender in the film through the lens of the femme fatale, while Mallon’s article focuses on the masculine gender and its deferences.

1. Bronfen, Elisabeth. “Femme Fatale: Negotiations of Tragic Desire.” New Literary History, vol. 35, no. 1, 2004, pp. 103–116. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/20057823.

Bronfen introduces the Femme Fatale as a modem of understanding gender differences acknowledging the female attribute of ignoring her own “fallibility”, while the male is seen in an attempt to stave of the knowledge of his own flaws. The characters use their masculine or feminine characteristics to retain control: while Walter is further drawn to Phyllis’ sexuality, Phyllis attaches her revolutionary self on the information and means that Walter provides her with, i.e. his job as an insurance monger. Portrayed as “sexually uninhibited and unabashedly bold”, Pyhllis stands out of the standard templates of femininity, while Walter acts exactly as expected and uses Phyllis to fulfil his own ‘narcissistic sexual fantasies’. (112words)

2. Grossman, Julie. “Film Noir’s “Femme Fatales” Hard-Boiled Women: Moving beyond Gender Fantasies.” Quarterly Review of Film & Video, vol. 24, no. 1, Jan. 2007, p. 19.

Grossman suggests that the cultural experience of gender has rendered a “limited image of the role of a woman in society”, and that the Film Noir of ‘Double Indemnity’ offers a continued extensions of these constrictions, therefore mitigating gendered social spaces and criticising the gender differences, by providing examples of what happens when women cross these conventional boundaries. Her article puts forth the dictate that a ‘binary forms’ between the two genders, as well as between the expected and actual behaviour of the characters: between Phyllis the femme fatale and Lola, as well as between the male characters of Keyes and Walter Neff, who form an “existential partnership”. (108 words)

3. Mallon, Christopher. “Double Indemnity: Film Noir and the Dark Side of Masculinity.” Screen Education, no. 79, 2015, p. 124-125. EBSCOhost, ezp.lib.unimelb.edu.au/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edsgao&AN=edsgcl.440821115&site=eds-live&scope=site.

Mallon argues that double indemnity represents the male gender as having a dark side. Using the tool of film form, he establishes the role of the ‘male gaze’ and accentuates the masculine figure by drawing on the Walter’s voice over in the narrative, while Phyllis is seen through his eyes as a seductress. He explains gender roles through “body language and character positioning” defined to be determined by power dynamics and the ‘breakdown on familial, socio-economic and cultural roles as normatively accepted’; while specifically focusing on the masculine character deferring from stereotypically heroic to a man entrapped by ‘criminality’. Mallon supplements; the understanding of this by acknowledging the contribution of the mis-en-scene in Double Indemnity. (118 words)

4. Doane, Mary Ann. “Femme Fatale, Feminism, Film Theory, Psychoanalysis.” 1991, books.google.com.au/books?https://books.google.com.au/books?id=kMoFkmYwqYwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=femme+fatales+feminism+film+theory+psychoanalysis+double+indemnity.

Doane views the femme fatale as the “anti-thesis of maternal”; she does not produce life, but rather becomes a fetishistic object of another man. She adds, “she is not the subject of feminism, but a symptom of male fears of feminism”, like Phyllis’ unabashed sexuality being a danger to Walter, and his manhood. She uses psychoanalysis to understand the film form, providing a new approach to the subject, and puts forth the idea that the woman is in a field of differentiation, from which she herself has been excluded. It offers a preview of the mentality and looks at the innate pre-dispositions which lead to gendered experiences in set situations.

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Embodiment of Gendered Experiences: Representation of Gender in Double indemnity. (2019, Jun 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved December 1, 2020, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/embodiment-of-gendered-experiences-representation-of-gender-in-double-indemnity/
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