Conventions of Film NoirFilm Noir theme: Setting Film Noir is often set in urban areas, and a few cities – Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York and Chicago are classic locations. Noir films are set in big cities as they are meant to act as a ‘maze’ or ‘labyrinth’, as well as the locations used in the city are usually, bars, gambling dens and other mob like places. The scenes of Noir films are always set at night with heavy rain, this helps create the atmosphere that noir films are trying to set; Noir films are usually dark mysterious films with a main character with obvious flaws for the audience to see, this works best when the scene is set at night rather than a sunny day or it would ruin the atmosphere the movie is trying to create in order to make the viewer’s enjoy and be surprised at what will come next. The city is often presented as a ‘labyrinth’ or ‘maze’. Noir films are set in the huge undergrounds of cities to create a ‘maze’ or ‘labyrinth’ effect that the viewers and some characters can get ‘lost’ in. This also helps with the plot of noir films as they are usually crime films, huge shadows and endless alleyways, this helps set the atmosphere of the film. If the scene was set in open ground with bright sun rays, it would ruin the effect that noir films need to be successful and that is mysterious dark plots that keep the viewer guessing Bars, lounges, nightclubs and gambling dens are frequently the scenes of action. These locations are used very specifically as they provide the correct atmosphere for the film to be effective on the audience, these locations set the scene for mystery and allow noir to use the typical noir setting effect with large shadows and dark areas. We know that these specific locations are used because they are not the normal places for an audience to go, so they create a negative atmosphere for the audience In noir it is always night and it always rains. The maximize the effect of the noir the scenes are always set at night with heavy rain, this helps create the effective atmosphere that is needed in noir films, it creates an atmosphere of mystery, which keeps the audience wanting to find out what is next. The rainy night effect is very effective as it suits the ‘maze’ or ‘labyrinth’ effect that the city is providing.Film Noir theme: Ideology Film Noir is often described as essentially pessimistic.
Usually the main character of the film is provided with a task to solve a murder ortake down an important figure head, the main character is very pessimistic on how totackle the challenge ahead of him. In lots of Noir films the main character (usually aDetective) has very little information to start with, and has to use knowledge of theirown to solve the investigation. We see in the film ‘Se7en’ detective Somerset useshis own knowledge of the religious views and sacrificial murders to understand thepattern that is being used by the cereal killer John Moe. As well as in the film ‘TheBig Combo’ we see that Detective Diamond is the man who knows Mr. Brown thebest and his use of knowledge on the ‘Bad’ guy helps to finally bring Mr. Browndown. Often telling stories of people who are trapped in unwanted situations, striving against random, uncaring fate, and are frequently doomed. The Noir based films usually shows us a character that is in a very difficult situation,either trapped and cannot escape un-aided, or the fact that the character is doomedanyway and will meet a nasty end. The use of these types of deaths is used tocreate the correct atmosphere appropriate to the film in the audience, if the makersshowed pleasant scenes with characters they would be unsuitable for the film andruin what the audience would expect from Noir based films. Throughout the filmSe7en we see all different kinds of murder all of which are very gruesome andinvolve a character are doomed. In the film ‘The Big Combo’ we see that Mr. Brown’semployees murder some characters. Illustrating a world that is inherently corrupt.Noir films are very good at expressing how the world we live in is not perfect, thefilms show how locations and everyday people can change to create a huge negativeand corrupt atmosphere, we see in the film ‘ The Big Combo’ that a restaurant isbeing used as the location for Mr. Brown, this shows an innocent location turned intoa criminals hide out, enhancing the fact that the world around us is filled with bothgood and bad, even locations we would assume with ‘ordinary’ people such asrestaurants can be not what they seem The classic American film noir has been associated with the sense of heightened anxiety and alienation after WWII.After World War 2 American noir based films could have possibly changed, due tothe knowledge and experience of the war, ordinary people at that time who mayhave been oblivious to great violence witnessed it for 6 years as World War 2occurred. After the war many people would change the aspect of noir as the violencethat has been seen by everyday people from the war, would be greater than that ofthe noir based films The tone of film noir is generally regarded as downbeat – ‘overwhelmingly black’ according to Robert Ottoson.
Noir based films are famous for their overwhelmingly use of shadows throughout the film, the location of these films are set in large cities often exploring the underground of criminal life at night with rain. The use of shadows in this type of scenery is very effective on the audience as it creates the mystery that film noir hopes to achieve with a hardboiled detective hunting down a famous criminal for the good of the city. Noirs often have a hopeless tone but often imbued with sexual innuendo Noir films always start with the criminal of the film being in control of the activities, creating a helpless effect as the detective cannot find any evidence to accuse the criminal, we see in both of the films ‘The Big Combo’ and ‘Se7en’ that when the film begins we see that the detectives are unsure on how to bring either Mr Brown or John Moe down, with the films always showing the criminal in control of the events in the storyline, eventually as the films continues we see the change of control shift to the side of the detectives.Film Noir theme: Structure and Narrative Unusual convoluted storylines, often involving flashbacks and flash forwards which can obscure the narrative sequence.Using flashbacks and flash forwards distracts the audience from the storyline andalso helps us feel like we are lost in the film like the characters are lost in the mazelike city , also to obscure the storyline it blurs the audiences vision on which is eviland which is good within the film. We may even see or hear about past events onhow the character ended how they are, broken hearts or murders. Often the protagonist is the voiceover narration.The main character often does the voiceover narration so that it feels like he is theone telling the story from a first hand experience, this makes the story feel as if itmaybe an anecdote The narrative drive is usually provided by the protagonists search for criminal justice.We know that the main character who does the narrative is the detective behind theinvestigation that is being done, and we can tell that the main character wants thecriminal to have his justice as he is the one who is trying to bring down the main badcharacter Latter-day noir has been in the forefront of structural experimentation in popular cinema, as exemplified by such films as Pulp Fiction and Memento.
The noir films have been quiet similar for some time with similar lighting effects andsimilar characteristics for characters, however in recent times directors have tried tochange some aspects of noir films in order to re invent the idea of noir to keep itfresh and interesting to modern audiencesFilm Noir theme: Visual Style Low-key lighting for light dark contrasts and dramatic shadows.Film Noirs are famous for there shadowed surroundings and mysterious story lines.The low key lighting and dramatic shadows create the perfect atmosphere for theaudience to feel involved, these are extremely effective as it creates amazingscenery and works extremely well in order to create the mystery that is needed fornoir films Characters faces may be wholly or partly obscured by darkness.The characters may be in the dark, to secretly say that everyone has darknesshidden within them that contains the evil side of human psychology. The shadowsalso add an element of mystery to make the audience think about how the characteris being displayed Dutch angles, low-angled shots and wide angle lenses.The types of angle shots used in noir films are very unique as they are used tocapture long distances of space, usually to add more shadow or dramatic darknessto the picture, greatly benefiting and emphasizing the mysterious element of the filmthat is trying to be shown to the audience German Expressionism influences are seen in Film Noir.In Germany during the 1920s before the First World War that reached a peak inBerlin, during the 1920s. These developments in Germany were part of a largerExpressionist movement in north and central European culture in fields such asarchitecture, painting and cinema. This showed the importance of cutural basedideas as well expressed in the film noir Shots of people reflected in mirrors or through curved or frosted glass used as devices to disorientate.The noir films are based around mystery and using unclear shots in scene helps tocreate an effective atmosphere that emphasizing the fact that the film is basedaround mystery and over whelming dark nesses of the unknown, using curved orfrosted glass to show character makes the audience believe that characters are notall they seem, creating an air of uncertainty for the audience again blurring the linefor audience between good and bad characters
Side light is often used to reflect character ambivalence and shots lit from below used to express unnatural or ominous facial expressions.The lighting effect is used extremely well in noir films and maximized to the length ofits abilities, we know that noir is based around mystery however the lighting cancreate facial expressions of uncertainty among characters that fully lit rooms wouldnot show also creating an unusual atmosphere for the audience to think about, wemay even near elements of fear among characters which would spread to theaudienceFilm Noir theme: Themes Crime, usually murder is a key theme.Film Noir’s themes are usually murder as it is really effective with the scenery thatthe noir films use, very dark, shadows, maze like city and rainy, these create anatmosphere of mystery keeping the audience on their toes on what will happen next,as well as with the theme being murder we can see how the main character the filmis focused on both ‘good’ and ‘bad’ is effected on how the murder is committed andwho it is committed upon Greed and jealousy is frequently the criminal’s motivation.The Noir films are very good at emphasizing the fact that no-one is perfect and noircan show this very easy. We know noir are crime films but as an audience we wantto know how it has started and it is usually through jealously for personal gain. Thisgives us information on the ‘bad’ character as straight away an obvious flaw is thejealously of the character, noir are known for showing clearly flawed characters, sothis fits in with this cater gory as well A crime investigation by a private eye or police detective is the most prevalent plot.The plot is very powerful as we find out about how the police detective (‘good’character) will tackle to investigation they have been given. We learn throughoutevery noir film that every one has some flaw and that is it easy to spot weather it islove or anger, these type of emotions bring out the best and worst in people,however noir tend to use these to show us the bad side of a person in order to blurthe lines between good and bad Other plots include adulterous affairs, false suspicions, betrayals and double crosses.Other ways to show how people are not perfect is the disloyal behavior that sometake part in the films, we see all kinds of different ways in which friends becomeenemies and vice versa. Also this kind of behavior is expected from the area inwhich the film is focusing on e.g. Murder, Gang Bosses. These characteristics of the
character that feature also help to provide the atmosphere of the film or even makeforce the audience to judge the character that is performing the acts weather they bethe ‘good’ or ‘bad’ character it could blur the line between good and evil. The psychological exploration of the darker side of humankind.The noir films tend to show us the real dark side of human behavior weather that becold blooded murder or betrayals of great friends, these show us the extremeopposite of what other films may show us, noir set out to prove that no one is perfectand in order to do so they have to explore the extent of how evil some people maygo in order of personal gain or just because they can. This is also used to shock theaudience because it may not be the ‘bad’ character that performs the evil acts, as weknow no one is perfect. The social exploration of the darker side of society.Noir set out to explore the lower life of cities and how bad the standard of living is aswell as how scary it can be. We witness horrible murders and other events from justordinary people. The crowd that is usually used in the films noir are the criminals orpeople who use the ‘black’ market or people involved in illegal organizations, noirfilms clearly show these types of jobs so that the audience can see the extreme ofthe investigation under way on the film, and the main character may have to getinvolved to stop the person he wants to ( do a little evil to do a lot of good)Film Noir theme: Structure and Narrative Unusual convoluted storylines, often involving flashbacks and flash forwards which can obscure the narrative sequence.Using flashbacks and flash forwards distracts the audience from the storyline andalso helps us feel like we are lost in the film like the characters are lost in the mazelike city , also to obscure the storyline it blurs the audiences vision on which is eviland which is good within the film. We may even see or hear about past events onhow the character ended how they are, broken hearts or murders. Often the protagonist is the voiceover narration.The main character often does the voiceover narration so that it feels like he is theone telling the story from a first hand experience, this makes the story feel as if itmaybe an anecdote The narrative drive is usually provided by the protagonists search for criminal justice.We know that the main character who does the narrative is the detective behind theinvestigation that is being done, and we can tell that the main character wants thecriminal to have his justice as he is the one who is trying to bring down the main badcharacter
Latter-day noir has been in the forefront of structural experimentation in popular cinema, as exemplified by such films as Pulp Fiction and Memento.The noir films have been quiet similar for some time with similar lighting effects andsimilar characteristics for characters, however in recent times directors have tried tochange some aspects of noir films in order to re invent the idea of noir to keep itfresh and interesting to modern audiences