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Film Noir History and Background

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  • 1. Film Noir An Introduction jamesherberta2media.blogspot.co.uk
  • 2. Background • Film Noir was a popular style of filmography which peaked in 1940’s and 50’s Hollywood. • The genre takes origins from across Europe, particularly in the filming styles, but the archetypal detective, cops and robbers plot lines were added by America.
  • 3. • The name ‘Film Noir’ derives from the black and white visual style of the genre. • Film Noir plots can vary from normal civilians being lured to crime, or has been boxers fighting the law, but Film Noir resonates most strongly with detective dramas, with cynical undertones and subtle nods to sex. • The Genre has further developed into the modern sub-genre of ‘Neo Noir’, modern interpretations of the Film Noir genre of the 1940’s. • Humphrey Bogart is arguably the most famous Film Noir actor.
  • 4. Visual Style - Film Noir is famed for it’s black and white style. - Aside from colour, directors used low key lighting, and simplistic techniques to create light and dark contrasting shades on the screen. - This is symbolised most well with shadows, and the connotes the ideas of good and bad sides to people.
  • 5. • The use of light and shadow meant that often actors bodies and faces could become submerged completely in dark shadow – something rare in Hollywood at the time. • There are numerous lighting and shadow techniques that have become strong conventions and to some extent cliches within film noir, these include the use of blinds to create shadowed lines through face. • Film Noir also made use of smoke as a special effect, as black and white camera’s of the day could pick this up.
  • 6. Plots • Most Film Noir plots revolve around crime, whether crime syndication, murder, gambling – mainly motivated by jealousy and greed. • Misguided information leading detectives on trails looking for criminals, and often becoming victims and tragic hero’s themselves are clear conventions.
  • 7. Settings • Film Noir is generally associated with urban settings in America. New York, San Francisco and Chicago have all been featured – though no city features as much as Los Angeles. • Most indoor settings revolve around bars, lounges, and even speakeasies depending on the settings of the films. These are where large amounts of action happen. • Often Film Noir is set at night.
  • 8. Characters • Main Character: - most often a Police Detective, hard on his luck and facing some sort of personal struggle, whether it be crime, relationships or alcoholism. • Female lead: - many Film Noir’s have a young attractive actress playing a female character. She can be an aid to the main or carry a double identity – perhaps a femme fatale. • Villains: - there are always villains in Film Noir. Directors do well to distinguish them as different through mise-en- scene. • Bourgeoisie: - The main detective can often have to answer to a police force ‘above him’. They can instruct him what to do, but often can seem out of touch with reality.

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