The classic Femme Fatale was born through one of hollywoods artistic movements that began in the early 1940’s, called ‘film noir’ which directly translates to black cinema in English. This specific style of cinematographic film is characterised by darkness, cynicism, mystery and a strong ambiance of pessimism. Its to no surprise that the grand notion of the famous femme fatale was created from the mysterious ambiance of this artistic movement. The femme fatale depicts an attack on the traditional role of women, especially in the 1940’s where social norms dictated women’s lives and dictated how they had to behave; which was to be a coy housewife and powerless to men. A femme fatale besieges these expectations, by rejecting these conjectures and throwing them out of the window by being fiercely independent and in charge of their own sexuality, a concept that men were not used to. This unfamiliarity spiked curiosity in men, and obviously as a femme fatale would she uses this new found cunning sex appeal to manipulate men and gain social power. A femme fatale, as the name suggests, leads to the slow demise of manhood and almost sets men in a trance of worship.
Marilyn Monroe, not only played femme fatales in films, but was the epitome of a femme fatale in real life. She posed for an issue of playboy, when back in the day it was taboo for ‘proper’ women to expose themselves like that. She was in control of her own body and was quite sexually outspoken. Monroe also had a vert tempestuous life full off affairs, idolisation and mystery. Like the true femme fatale she was, she left the world in an obscure mystery and to this day, no one knows the real cause of her death.
Theda Bara was hollywood’s first ever femme fatale and she eared herself the nickname ‘The Vamp’ by the industry which was a slang term for a predatory female. She set the standard for many other women after her and oozed mystery, sexual, and predatory vibes which bewitched the world around her. Bara was considered lethal to men, she was depicted as poison which you couldn’t resist.
Who wouldn’t want a glimpse into the life of a classic femme fatale? Through these memoirs, novels and even love letters you are thrown into the life of a femme fatale and you learn about the intricate ways their minds work.
This memoir gives you inside peak into the life of Kiki de Montparnasse, who was a a prominent model, nightclub singer actress and painter in Paris in the 1920’s. These features of women were seen as taboo and not how a lady was ‘supposed’ to act. This memoir was originally published in Paris in 1929, and was banned in the States for a while. Kiki was wild and a friend to many, and was even Man Ray’s lover and muse. She was described as ‘ a woman who was never a lady’ by Ernest Hemingway, which ultimately earned her the title of a femme fatale.
This is a dark and depressive story that surrounds the toxic femme fatale Elsa Hazlitt. From the opening line of the novel to the very end you are presented by Hazlitt’s disregard of feelings towards anyone, even her family and a constant feeling of restlessness. This story is unsettling to read and chills you to the bone.
Feisty, sexual and independent are the main characteristics of a femme fatale, so better watch out if you ever come across women like this, they bite!