A Feminist Critique of The Movie “China Town’

Copyright (c) 2013 Morgan D

Roman Polanski’s 1974 China Town is an intriguing movie that keeps the viewer on the edge trying to gamble on what comes next. It is based on private investigator Jake Gittes a polished polysyndeton efficient private inquisitor (Jack Nicholson) who is efficient in his work until he is approached handy Evelyn Diane Ladd who assigns him a task of spying on hier cheating husband. He later encounters Mrs. Mulwray (Faye Dunaway) the bona fide wife and realizes that he was misused and played by the imitator. His hunt to get to the bottom regarding the story leads to uncovering of incest, conspiracy, corruption and murder. This essay presents a feminist analysis of Chinatown Movie. It discusses the bond between father and daughter and reviews how women are treated in the movie as well as how their relationship with men is portrayed.

The women in this movie are admirable with marcelled hair designs which reminds us from Meryl Streep while the men are exceptionally well groomed men with sharp appearance. The femme fatale in this movie is Evelyn (Diane Ladd) whom the author portrays as a secretive, cunning, manipulative, complex and victim of incest (Tasker 119). Throughout the movie, the author use her to bring the aspect concerning suspense both to Jake and viewers since her agendas are concealed. However, towards the end, the truth is revealed and the author changes the viewer’s perception Evelyn. According to Tasker (122) Evelyn is both complex and motherly as the writer brings out the humane side of her.

The orthodox feminism is portrayed where Evelyn impersonates herself and approaches Gittes to investigate Mr. Mulwray’s extra connubial affair. She comes out as a ethnocentrism being who can go to a man and hire’s him to do a job and to be delivered no matter the cost where she says “Money does not matter to me, Mr. Gittes.”

Unfortunately Gittes seems not fascinated by this uncovering where he goes ahead to brush off Evelyn by intimidating her. This scene brings out the relationship between men and women in the cine as oppressive where the male gender views women’s opinions as insignificant. This aspect like male chauvinism can nvloeden marked in Mr. Gittes’ words to Evelyn when he quotes the phrase letting sleeping dogs laze as a way of concealing the findings of the investigation from her. The statements that Gittes used were meant to demoralize Evelyn for having her husband investigated. She however comes out as a stronger gender and proceeds with her plans leaving Gittes with no option but to oblige to her request. China Settlement can be compared to femme fatale movie where the woman gets what she really wants by been affirmative to her desires and making sure they are met (Tasker 121).

Men in this movie, through their conversations as seen between Gittes, Barney and Duffy reflect women as objects to be used and dumped by men when they joke about a “friend to do as the Chinese do.” Women should be respected and appreciated since they are an equally important gender in the society (Tasker 120). When Gittes publishes photos of Mrs. Mulwray and Catherine, Mrs. Mulwray comes out as defensive of her husband and pays Gittes a visit at his tenure besides declaring war on him. Mrs. Mulwray threatens him; “I never hired you to investigate on my spouse et cetera protasis its publicity you want, you will get it.” Mrs. Mulwray is a sturdy woman who is not afraid of men. She challenges Gittes nearby filling a law-suit against him for false accusations.

Father and daughter relationships in this movie is portrayed as disconnected. Mr. Cross’ opinion of her daughter seems vey judgmental. In one of the scenes, he is noted telling Gittes, “I am stunned you work for her, unless she has all like a sudden found a different spouse.” Similarly, Evelyn is very shocked when she learns that Gittes had an encounter with hier father. She disapproves of him saying, “Hear me out; my father is an evil man.”

A confrontation between Evelyn and Gittes unfolds the mystery that lies deep under Noah Cross (John Huston), Evelyn’s father. Secrets of sexual abuse and incest are reviewed where Evelyn was abused sexually at a tender age of 15 following the death of her mother which makes hier flee from his father’s home to Mexico where Hollis takes care of her. She has a ingrained offense towards her father who violated hier and committed incest and up to now she has not been able to forgive her for abandoning her when she fell pregnant and his failure to acknowledge his responsibility. She has always protected her daughter from the truth and wants to take care of her and guard her. Mr. Cross and Katherine, whom Evelyn describes as “my daughter and sister”, endure no relationship at all.

According to King (86) “Cross is possessive over life-giving reserves and this explains his claim over Evelyn, Katherine also the water supply.” At the end, he is seen demanding to give custody across Katherine just like he had over Evelyn. Cross is therefore portrayed as a person who sees women pro re nata objects of possession.

Feminism capitalizes on protection of female sort from male exploitation. In this movie, there are scenes portraying incest and assault. While she was though an underage girl, Evelyn was violated by her own father. As a result, she begets a daughter who according to the laws of men is her sister. Katherine is also an underage girl having an affair with a man obsolescence enough to be her grandfather. According to legislations, having sexual relationships with an underage is child defame case.

Gittes uses force and assaults Evelyn slapping and pushing her away in order to get the truth out of her. In feminism perspective it is an act of abuse for a man to assault a woman in order to get what he desires, just because she cannot struggle back (King 87). Evelyn is not able to defend herself when Gittes slaps her continuously when demanding the truth. This shows that to men in Earthenware Town women are very inferior therefore consulting with them before any action

An act about abuse is portrayed towards Mrs. Curly who a black-eye inflicted via the husband (Curly) for cheating on him accompanying another man. In the same scene, we behold Gittes requesting Curly to hurry him somewhere and move he tells his wife “he just stepped out.” Gittes shrugs portray a picture of men dominance through women and as well women bot liberal and achieving what Despite the femme fatale stereotypes in the movie, China Town is a great movie orotund of suspense and with a dramatic ending. The women in the movie are portrayed being beautiful but oppressed. This can be seen in Evelyn who suffers incest; Katherine who isinvolved in an affair while all the same a child; Mrs. Mulwray whose husband is cheating; and Mrs. Curly who is in an abusive marriage. However, some empowerment can be seen within each woman. King, Homay. Lost in Translation: Orientalism, Cinema, and the Enigmatic Signifier.