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Jessica Jones is High Art

Before we even get deep, Jessica Jones is cinematographically beautiful. It challenges


the traditions of the narrative structure standard to the typical studio film, in a way that
stuffy cinema studies professors might say only international art cinema or independent
festival films do. I could write an essay on my Film Aesthetics and Analysis final on it.
I hadnt read the comic book prior to viewing, so this purple man was very mysterious
to me. The really lighting emphasized Jessicas memories of him, allowing the
flashbacks to never seem gimmicky, jarring, or cliche. As the narrative unfolded through
these moments, the audience saw that this purple lighting also served as a leitmotif for
Kilgrave, the cause of Jessicas traumatic recall.
The way each shot was framed showed the influence that the platform of comic books
had on this series. Moments were framed with dynamic intention (the focus puller on
this show deserves a slow clap), calling to mind the specificity of each frame on a page
in a comic, and the importance this has on the narrative. Jessica Jones never relies
solely on the lines that are spoken to tell its story. The exposition, mood, and
relationships are all illustrated and supported by the images that are created.
In many ways, Jessica Jones is a love letter to the American genre movie. The voice
over and low key lighting specifically recall film noir. Jessica Jones asks the question of
whether to be a hero, you have to be a good person or even a lawful person. This moral
ambiguity can be seen as a callback to the tradition that film noir was directly inspired
by: the gangster movie. The character of Will Simpson really plays with these tropes.
The character of Jessica Jones has agency, the power to act. Yes, SPOILERS, she has
literal agency in that she is immune to Kilgraves mind control. But also, in the narrative
structure of the series, the audience sees that she is not simply a pawn that serves as a
love interest for the heterosexual male protagonist. She has the gaze, a concept usually
reserved for a masculine point of view. The very first sequence in the show shows
Jessica looking at Luke Cage from afar. I dont think that this is a coincidence.
Jessica has sex, makes mistakes, and gets in fights with her best friend and her sexual
partner. But she is never seen as asking for it, except by the very personification of evil
within the show: Kilgrave. The kind of guy who would, if you think about it, be the
protagonist in another show or movie. He would do anything to get the girl. And yet, in
the conclusion of the series, Jessica is not punished for wanting to leave his sphere.
She is empowered.