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The Black Dahlia (2006)

The Black Dahlia (2006)

(p.270) Chapter 27 The Black Dahlia (2006)
Brian De Palma's Split-Screen
Douglas Keesey
University Press of Mississippi

This chapter depicts a plunge back into the nightmarish world of film noir with The Black Dahlia (2006). The story pivots around the lust-murder of Elizabeth Short (Mia Kirshner), dubbed the “Black Dahlia,” the wannabe starlet who ended up in stag films before having her face slashed from ear to ear and her body cut in half. Elizabeth herself becomes the object of obsession for key male characters in the film. The Black Dahlia, the chapter argues, presented the image of Elizabeth's severed corpse as a way to call attention to the sexploitation and victimization of women. Moreover, the chapter searches for an autobiographical resonance in the film's male characters, particularly in the form of the lead character Bucky's (Josh Hartnett) troubled family memories and fraternal rivalry with his partner Lee (Aaron Eckhart).

Keywords:   The Black Dahlia, film noir, lust-murder, Elizabeth Short, sexploitation, victimization, women, troubled family, fraternal rivalry

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