An Animated Femme Fatale

I’m not sure how many of you have seen it, but if you haven’t, I think that Who Framed Roger Rabbit is an excellent film to watch, because it combines a variety of topics that we discussed in class. It merges elements from a  variety of film genres, from animation and musicals (it has two songs, one that I linked, and another one towards the end), to the hard-boiled cop crime film, and especially film noir (with its black and white flashbacks, cynical protagonist, and of course, its femme fatale). It is essentially a revisionist-hybrid of all of these genres and serves as a satire both for them and the animation industry as a whole.

I could probably write multiple posts on this one film, but I wanted to call attention to its use of the femme fatale character, Jessica Rabbit, because we spent a good portion of class today discussing the femme fatale archetype and its role in film. Jessica Rabbit has, in many ways, become almost a modern symbol for the femme fatale, as she is an incredibly mysterious, sexualized character who flirts with almost any male lead, while hiding her ulterior motives. I don’t want to give away too many details, because the film is definitely worth watching, but behind her overly sexualized look, she is an incredibly complex and manipulative character, a quality of the femme fatale character.

However, Jessica works best when viewed as a satire of the character trope, as her body proportions are extremely exaggerated, her dialogue is overly mysterious (she even pokes fun at herself), and her “dark side” seems almost forced upon her (noted through her line “I’m not bad, I’m just drawn that way”). These suggest that the creators of the film were aware of the stereotypes associated with the femme fatale, in addition to how integral they are to a mystery plot, but wanted to put a new spin on the character.

Below is a link to Jessica’s famous scene in the film,  which pokes fun at, and references, a variety of other femme fatale scenes (it emphasizes how they are mostly viewed as sexualized characters, but also plays with their mysterious nature and relationship with the protagonist).

One thought on “An Animated Femme Fatale”

  1. The fact that Jessica Rabbit is also used to convey comedy through classic cartoon antics is also playing on the concept of a femme fatale. One example being when her cleavage is searched for Marvin Acme’s last will and testament, a bear trap catches the hand of the searcher, revealing the hammerspace ability, coordinating with the pun “nice booby trap”. The bounce of her bosom is also very unrealistic and puts her in awkward comedic situations like the scene above where Eddie bumps his head as he is standing up. These comedic digs take away from her mystery and makes her different from a classic femme fatale.

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