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It's Chinatown: Orientalist discourse and the city in the noir tradition

Kelso-Marsh, Caleb (2015) It's Chinatown: Orientalist discourse and the city in the noir tradition. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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This thesis provides an analysis of the films Chinatown (1974) and Blade Runner (1982) on the basis of three characteristics. Both films stem from the tradition of film noir. While there is debate over the use of the term as a genre category, it is widely agreed to refer to a specific period of cinema between 1940 and the late 1950s from which these two films draw stylistic inspiration. One way in which this influence is evident is in Chinatown and Blade Runner’s use of cityscape. Both films are set in LA, a city in which the majority of traditional film noirs are also set. It is my argument that in their portrayal of LA, Chinatown and Blade Runner present a highly Orientalised cityscape in which Oriental motifs function as signifiers of urban decay. Such a means of representation is not unique to these films but rather stems from traditional film noir.

Publication Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Arts
Supervisor: Moody, David
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