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001 film noir introduction


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Trouble is My Business: Introduction to Film Noir …

Trouble is My Business: Introduction to Film Noir

001 Film Noir: Introduction to Film Noir

A four PowerPoint set covering: Introduction to Film Noir, Characters and Themes, Place and Iconography, Plot and Story Structure. The course was supported by screenings of; The Rules of Film Noir (Documentary) and The Matese Falcon.

Largely stolen, ripped, copied, re-worked and edited from other sources these slide decks were produced to support an ESL Drama course on the topic of Film Noir. My apologies to those I have rampantly sampled but actually I feel I have drawn a number of sources together here to produce something which is more than the sum of its parts (fair use).

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  • 1. Film Noir
  • 2. Film Noir  (literally 'black film or cinema') was coined by film critics (in 1946) who noticed the trend of how 'dark', downbeat and black the looks and themes were of many American crime and detective films released following World War II.
  • 3. Titles  Titles of many film noirs often reflect the nature or tone of the style and content itself: Dark Passage (1947), The Naked City (1948), Fear in the Night (1947)
  • 4. Cinematic Origins and Roots of Classic Film Noir European émigré film-makers fleeing the war in Europe. The style of German Expressionism of the 1920s and 1930s,
  • 5. Lighting Strong, onedirectional lighting, creating deep shadows with heavy contrast against the lit areas
  • 6. Crime Fiction The plots and themes often taken from adaptations of best-selling, hardboiled, crime fiction by Raymond Chandler or Dashiell Hammett.
  • 7. Historical Conetext Classic film noir developed during and after World War II, reflecting the resultant tensions and insecurities of the time period.
  • 8. Themes Melancholy, alienation, anxiety, mistrust, loss of innocence, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt, desperation and paranoia.
  • 9. Male Lead Very often, a film noir story was developed around a cynical, hardhearted, disillusioned male character
  • 10. Heros or Anti-Heros Hard-Boiled detectives, cops, private eyes, gangsters, killers government agents, petty criminals, murderers.
  • 11. Female Lead … who encountered a beautiful but promiscuous, amoral, doubledealing and seductive femme fatale
  • 12. Femme Fatale She would use her feminine wiles and come-hither sexuality to manipulate him into becoming the fall guy - often following a murder.
  • 13. The Femme Fatale The females in film noir were either of two types - dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving women; or femme fatales - mysterious, duplicitous, double-crossing, gorgeous, unloving, predatory, tough-sweet, unreliable, irresponsible, manipulative and desperate women.
  • 14. Betrayal After a betrayal she was often destroyed, often at the cost of the hero's life
  • 15. Story & Plot Storylines were often complex, maze- like including many double-crosses, Typically told with dark, moody background music, Razor-sharp and witty dialogue, Confessional, first-person voice-over narration.
  • 16. Style and Mood Film noir films (mostly shot in gloomy grays, blacks and whites) thematically showed the dark and inhumane side of human nature and they emphasized the brutal, unhealthy, seamy, shadowy, dark and sadistic sides of the human experience.
  • 17. Style and Mood An oppressive atmosphere of menace, pessimism, anxiety, suspicion that anything can go wrong, dingy realism, futility, fatalism, defeat and entrapment were stylized characteristics of film noir.
  • 18. Visual Look Film noir films were marked visually by extreme black and white lighting, ominous shadows, strange camera angles, cigarette smoke, and unbalanced compositions.
  • 19. Settings and Place Settings were often interiors with single- source lighting, venetian-blinded windows, and dark, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances. Exteriors were often urban night scenes with deep shadows, wet asphalt, dark alleyways, mean streets, and flashing neon lights.
  • 20. Locations Story locations were often in dark streets, dimly-lit and low-rent apartments, hotel rooms, or abandoned warehouses.
  • 21. The Maltese Falcon  The first detective film to use the shadowy, nihilistic noir style in a definitive way was the pivotal work of novice director John Huston in the mystery classic The Maltese Falcon (1941), from a 1929 book by Dashiell Hammett.