Fatal Attraction ( Adrian Lyne ) & Cape Fear ( Martin Scorsese )

4 April 2015
Compares 1987 & 1992 films’ portrayals of traditional social gender roles, family values & the threat of sexual deviance.

Films make a number of assumptions about gender based on audience beliefs and expectations, and these are derived from the social structure prevalent at the time the film is made. A given film may present different images of gender roles through different characters. In both Fatal Attraction (1987) and the 1992 version of Cape Fear, there are gender roles based on the nuclear family that are held up as preferred or normal roles, and these are countered either by the actual behavior of some family member or by an outside force representing a different sexual energy, a different gender role. The films deliberately contrast what the filmmakers see as normal gender roles and deviant gender roles, and in both cases the deviant sexual energy threatens the family unit to such a degree that the outside force has to be killed to restore order to the family.

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