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The Reality of Corrupt Power Hungry Men in the Film Chinatown

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Roman Polanski's Hollywood film Chinatown, directed in 1974, tells the story of Jake Gittes, a private investigator. The film focuses in on the dark reality of corruption behind power hungry men, making this a true neo-noir film. Chinatown reveals a depth narrative allowing the viewer to follow Gittes and uncover the secrets around the water dispute in California. I chose to bring focus to the significance of the male gaze and how this form of power can change and affect our views. The prominent female character in the film, Evelyn Mulwray, is a wealthy white woman. With her character comes active male attention and desire. Laura Mulvey's Theory of "The Gaze" supports this argument by studying the power and influence of a patriarchal…show more content…
Like anything we can take this too far where the gaze becomes an obsession, particularly towards the female turning it into a sexual gaze. Therefore the male is the viewer and holds the power, he is what Mulvey states as being the active male while the female is then passive (1975). If the female becomes a passive character is she then needed for the development of the story? I do not think so, if we give her this position in the film she is not a valuable part of the narrative. The other way to view this gaze would be with cruelty towards the female character. The man is still in a position of control but in a victorious way. This may mean he treats her poorly. In the first scene I had mentioned earlier Evelyn is just meeting Jake for the first time. He is in his office with his male associates, which I may point out are all white men. Jake is telling a dirty joke about a man "screwing" his wife like the Chinese. When Jake turns to see Evelyn standing behind him all along both him and his co-workers stop with all seriousness in her presence. They have changed their demeanour completely because there is a woman in the room. This seemed to put a freeze in time as what was just happening in the office came to an abrupt stop as she enters the room. Mulvey (1975) states in her essay, "her visual presence tends to work against the development of a story-line" (p. 19). This means the men are holding the story line together with the added image
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