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Palgrave Macmillan

The "Femme" Fatale in Brazilian Cinema

Challenging Hollywood Norms

ISBN 9781137399205
Publication Date May 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

The femme fatale has long been constructed and understood in popular culture and cinema as a beautiful heterosexual Caucasian woman that belongs to film noir and neo-noir. Here, da Silva shows the need to incorporate diverse ethnic groups and male homosexuals into the range of "femmes" fatales. He examines how the Brazilian representations cross genre, gender, race, and class and offer alternative instances (black, slave, homosexual, married, and teenage) to the dominant Hollywood Caucasian model. As with gender performativity, the danger the femme fatale represents to society is constructed rather than being an innate feature. This figure represents areas of cultural anxiety, particularly around issues of sexuality and gender, but da Silva seeks to reframe these issues in the context of Brazilian film.

Antônio Márcio da Silva is Coordinator of Portuguese at the University of Kent, UK.


1. The Black Femme Fatale in Xica da Silva
2. The Femme Fatale's "Troubled" Gender in Madame Satã
3. Social Class and the Virgin/Whore Dichotomy in Bonitinha mas ordinária
4. The Fetish 'Dirt' as 'Social Pollution': The Married Femme Fatale in A dama do lotação
5. The 'Abject' Lesbian Fatale in As intimidades de Analu e Fernanda
6. 'Quoting' the Film-Noir Femme Fatale in A dama do Cine Shanghai



'What is original about this study is da Silva's decision to theorize the concept of the femme fatale, a term that has been very much of a shifter, in the sense that it has been moved around the semantic grid to cover multiple concepts or has been used to cover a gap in that grid. The 'Femme' Fatale in Brazilian Cinema is attentive to the queer postulate that sociosexual categories are not fixed lexemes with a rigid hierarchy of sememes, but of gender in a society and its cultural production." - David William Foster, Regent's Professor of Spanish, Women and Gender Studies, Arizona State University, USA
"This innovative book offers an interdisciplinary perspective on the performativity of the so-called 'femme fatale' in a number of Brazilian films primarily from the 1970s and 1980s. Navigating between representations of the femme fatale, or the 'deadly woman', if one prefers, as black, homosexual, slave or as a teenager, da Silva provides a key assessment of the figure for Lusophone Studies and cultural and film studies more generally." - Richard Cleminson, Reader, History of Sexuality, University of Leeds, UK
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