Monday, April 4, 2011

Musing on the Femme Fatale

"The femme fatale can appear as Medusan mother or as frigid nymph, masquing in the brillant luminosity of Apollonian high glamour. Her cool unreachability beckons, fascinates and destroys. She is not a neurotic but, if anything, a psychopath. That is, she has an amoral affectlessness, a serene indifference to the suffering of others, which she invites and dispassionately observes as test of her power."
                                  - Camille Paglia in Sexual Personae,
                                       Art and Decadence from Nefertiti to Emily Dickinson

For my part, I believe Camille Paglia is the premier scholar of Old Hollywood. She melds a mythological, archetypal approach to the concept of the movie star, which I find very helpful in understanding films as bodies of work. Her book is dense and academic but for those with the patience, richly rewarding and unites the study of film and literature in a brilliant way.

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