Is the Femme Fatale of the neo noir era any more liberated than her earlier manifestations of the 1940's/1950's?.
Throughout both the noir and the neo noir periods, we have seen the film industry create and re-create the femme fatale character. From Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity (Billy Wilder) through to "Wendy Kroy" in the Last Seduction (John Dahl), the femme fatale has developed through both periods of noir eras. Through these eras, the character has become more seductive, more intelligent and more scheming. The characteristics of both fatales, are mainly the same but slight differences have occurred. With the femme fatale in film noir, her seductive sexuality was her main weapon in weaving her web of deceit and capturing the fall guy. This then obviously gave her power and strength over men because of her sexuality and seductiveness. In noir films, the femme fatale wore a lot of makeup. This gave an impression of deception, with disguise and confusion surrounding her, which in turn making her an ambiguous figure. Also notable in the noir era was the fact that the fatale had no family and no close female friends-she was alone, she carried no baggage. At the end of all noir films, the fatale was always contained/punished in some way, but as we know, this was to change in the neo noir period, as I will explain later on. The main desire was for money - she would deploy false promises of romantic permanence to secure a commitment to the crime from the male.
Then we come to the femme fatale of the neo noir period. In this newly developed manifestation, the femme fatale has developed and become a "new woman", an item that women in society today have tried to become- more independent and less reliable on men. The neo noir films, however, have focused on darker sides of this new woman, and come up with many differences that single the fatale out from the previous fatale that we saw I films like "Kiss me, Deadly", "Double Indemnity", and "Chinatown".