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Susponsibility In Polanski's Chinatown Transcends The Old Noir

Powerful Essays
As expected of the femme fatale character, Evelyn uses her feminine advantage to lure Jake onto her side. The two become close, both emotionally and physically, but an overwhelming atmosphere of secrecy remains between them. Evelyn refuses to allow Jake past her outermost defensive layers because she knows that at the heart of the matter lies an unimaginable reality. The film offers a subtle glimpse into her psyche during a conversation concerning the relationship between her husband and her father, Mr. Cross [00:58:22]. The facade of icy domination shatters at the mention of her father’s name. In a dramatic twist near the end of the film, Evelyn reveals that her husband’s mistress is a product of incest. Catherine, the woman she has gone to such great lengths to hide from Jake, is both her sister and her daughter. This revelation flips the narrative on its head. Suspicion turns to sympathy as we come to see her as a painfully vulnerable victim. Topics of this nature were never approached in traditional film noir cinema: “we see the film…show more content…
Chinatown pushes the limits of conventional practices in an effort to unveil deeper truth. As Schwartz puts it, “Polanski’s Chinatown transcends the old noir to become one of the best meditations on the bottomless well of human mystery, corruption, and sexuality, as well as a definitive masterpiece of the new noir era.” It addresses themes of deception, manipulation, and ambiguity that hide our darkest secrets. The film ultimately brings to light the futility of our efforts to reconcile our past. Jake surrenders to his fate in the end when Evelyn is killed by a fellow officer on her way to freedom. The iconic last line, “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown,” reveals the pervasive nature of this worldview [02:08:25]. Chinatown illustrates these thematic conventions in full color to prove that the answers to some of our deepest questions are not so black and
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