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Discuss A Cultural Text In Relation To Representai

2290 words - 9 pages

'Discuss a cultural text in relation to representation and the unconscious'.Gender, sexuality and criminality are just some of the elements represented in the noir film, Double Indemnity (1944) directed by Billy Wilder. The author's patriarchal and psychoanalytical ideological position underlies all representations in this film. This essay will discuss the film Double Indemnity, and the ways in which it struggles to employ Freudian structures, such as the Oedipal Complex to reach deeply, and impact the viewer's unconscious. Cultural texts also use more basic techniques such as colour and body language to create representations, which access the unconscious, in order to impact and convey meaning on a deep, indirect and subtle level.The film is a thriller, and follows the typical noir genre's set of conventions; the employment of shadow, a femme fetale, pessimism and anxiety, obsession or tension. The plot involves a woman called Phyllis Deitrichson who lures insurance agent, Walter Neff into her dangerous plan of murder. Phyllis takes out a life insurance policy for her husband, and the two plot his murder; by making it appear that he died falling from a moving train, thus allowing them to claim double the insurance money on his life.Masculinity is negatively portrayed in this film, as Neff is shown be weak and easily corrupted by Phyllis, the beautiful femme fetale, who uses her sexual prowess to bring Neff to his death and destruction. Semiotic analysis contributes to the understanding of images constructed and the meanings produced, which, when combined create representations in the film Double Indemnity. The process of deconstruction enables us to make sense of the representations depicted in the film. The signifier is an image or word; for example the frame of Phyllis putting on her lipstick in the mirror, this observation tells us nothing of the meaning portrayed in the image. The denotation is the next step in this process; it is the description of the signifier, and in this instance it is a very beautiful lady looking in the mirror. To gain significance and depth when analysing the image we need to look at the connotations associated with the visual picture; for example the image of Phyllis looking in the mirror may show that she is represented as a vain woman with a split personality. This shot shows a double image of her face, suggesting that there is a gap between appearance and reality, also conveying how deceptive she is; this is reflected in the dialogue also, when Phyllis says to Neff that she hopes her 'face is on straight' as she puts on her lipstick.Camera technology, along with other techniques is frequently used to construct representations in Double Indemnity. On Neff's first visit to the Deitrichson household, a low angle shot establishes Phyllis' power over Neff. The shot shows her standing on the landing wearing only a towel wrapped around her body. On a superficial level of analysis, the signifier shows Phyllis standing at...

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