When Zeus secretly allowed the abduction of Persephone, trafficked from a flower field and dragged to the depths of the Underworld, the terrified Earth-Mother Demeter searched the lands in agony, leaving the crops without her nourishment and attendance. Realizing the err of this arrangement as the food supply withered, Zeus demanded his daughter’s return from Hades, but the Dark Prince had another idea. His offering of pomegranate, a sacred fruit of fertility for Early World Religions, sealed Persephone to the realm. Once she savored its seeds, she was bound to return to Hades’ Hell as his wife for part of the year. Thus the mythological explanation for the Autumn and Winter was lored.
Further interpretations of Persephone’s plight as paramour to Hades are abundant. A kid-friendly version speaks of a mother without her sunshine, the indulgence of the pomegranate perhaps was willingly broken so Persephone could live her own life, be her own person. However, many versions suggest she was sexually assaulted by Hades. The idea that she is attracted to a toxic relationship, simply embracing her sexuality, to the chains that is the contract of marriage, are all possibilities. The article Rape or Romance? questions the use of retelling these horrors, including a critique of Nikita Gill’s beautiful (but indeed fluffy) poem (below):
The Autumn Equinox (and pagan holiday Mabon) land on Tuesday September 22nd, 2020 for the Northern Hem, shortly after Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Both Mabon and Rosh Hashanah are introspective, reviewing the behaviors of the recent past and preparing for the future ahead. The 22nd also closes out Virgo’s reign in the Astrological Wheel, a sign which is ruled by Mercury, of Earth and symbolized by the Maiden (much like Persephone). In a moment of perfect balance, Darkness begins to encroach on the Light, and we soon enter Spooky Season. Approaching the Fall/Winter season, we have chosen to pay homage to certain archetypes within a film genre that has been abundant with shadows and fog, dark and light, danger and dreams, and of particular analytical interest: the Femme Fatale and Damsel-in-Distress.
Bound (1996), Lana and Lilly Wachowski
With the chilly autumn air creeping in around the corner, the erotic 1996 feauture film, Bound, is a worthy thriller to warm the blood with. As soon as the shock wears off from learning the Wachowski Sisters (Matrix Trilogy) wrote and directed this sexually charged lesbian neo noir, the nostalgia starts to kick in at the sound of Jennifer Tilly’s voice seducing a greased-up ex-con played by Gina Gershon (Showgirls).
We begin with a sultry introduction of the two leading ladies. Violet, the deeply unsatisfied gangster’s wife, meets the Brando-esque handy woman, Corky, in an uptown elevator. Sparks immediately fly between the two mysterious creatures and after a very steamy couch scene you start to think “this is a softcore porn”, ‘til suddenly we descend into the underworld of a violent, shocking and, at times even, offensive puzzle of money, murder and paranoia.
While the plot thickens to viscosity with 2 million dollars on the line and one faulty twist after another, the cinematography hauls masterfully through some brilliant sequences, creating a sumptuous air around the comically macabre. Consensus says, no matter how tight you may keep your proverbial halo, this piece of cinematic diablerie is bound to have you gripping for it.
Bound is free to stream on PlutoTV. – Soph
Flirting with danger, portrayed too often from the male gaze, the Femme Fatale eyes a loophole out of an oubuliette, always somehow still a Damsel-in-Distress, even when this duality is dressed wanton and ready. Yet cagey, holding cards close, she lavishes in the role, entangled to save herself, or for someone else to save her, if only (t)he(y) could see her true self. Between the lines it is read: fear lines her feminine wiles, desperation like invisible daggers against a skintight dress. Sometimes she lurks in the shadows, pretending she is not there at all, hoping to disappear into the fog, but there is courage there, too, for without it, there is no story.
The juxtaposition within the women of the noir genre allows depiction of grim realism (violence, objectification), flaunting men’s capitalization of women as objects… sexual, labored… and yet for the “hero”, women are objectified, too, romantically, to provide love, light, loyalty. The relation of femme to the men (and what role she serves) is a grotesque commentary of a woman’s context in industry, the home, ownership, subject. Yet the dreamy hopes to which these characters cling, to be seen, safe, are familiar. Any decent noir film contains these complexities with a yearn for freedom, even if she’s often crafted in relation to a man’s desires, serving the plot as a derailment, counterpart to a crime, an escape or a renewal in Love itself.
Neon Noir showcases some of the moods and motifs of noir soundtracks, the music of smoky chanteuse, pacing mysteries, plot anxieties, dramatic seductions and tragedy. The persona of the Femme Fatale and Damsel-in-Distress has been prime in the works of David Lynch, exemplified thru the music of Julee Cruise and Chromatics. Rewind into the dark-laced synth pop that walks in rhythm with a “futuristic” future-past archetype. The creation of robot women as political assassins or desperation alike, prominent as early as Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), revisited in the romantic noir of Godard’s Alphaville (1965) (French New Wave all over the neo-noir reinvent), and furthermore into the sci-fi masterpiece of Blade Runner (1982). Queue minimal wave and beyond, a bit of drama club cadence for ushering in leather weather. – Sun