Film Noir


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Film Noir

  1. 1. Professor Will Adams Valencia College
  2. 2.  The film noir genre was born from crime films.  Audiences grew bored with the criminal protagonist of gangster films.  They wanted more of a hero during war times  It is a more intelligent genre: German Expressionists heavily influenced it with their mise-en-scene.  Some film noir films have criminals & private eyes, but not all private eye or crime films are film noir.  The majority of film noir were produced from 1945-ish to 1950-ish.  They became simplified and too common, but they did leave a lasting impression on later filmmakers.
  3. 3.  There is no true definition of what constitutes a film noir, yet many films that are considered film noir contain similar characteristics.  Pictured at right: Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941)
  4. 4.  Mean, nasty places where anything can happen at any moment  Violence and crime occur often, usually randomly  Sex: strip clubs, bars, sultry women abound  Cities are grimy, dirty places with lots of shadows.
  5. 5.  In most film noir, fog obscures and renders a familiar environment both unclear and unknown.  Fog’s opacity is symbolic of the mysterious, unknowable quality of both fate and the future.  Its presence usually foreshadows a turning point in the film’s plot.
  6. 6.  What lies under the water?  The audience can rarely see below the water’s surface  This creates apprehension & suspense on the viewer’s part.  The water is often symbolically murky, choppy, or tumultuous
  7. 7.  Film noir uses high contrast lighting with lots of shadows.  Sometimes props are the only source of light  This is called low key lighting.  Little key lighting (principle source of light)  Mostly fill light (lights from side or back)  Comedies and musicals usually use high key lighting to create uniform light with little contrast, film noir are the opposite of this effect.
  8. 8. What low-key lighting effects do you see in this image of Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca (1942)?
  9. 9. A still of the Brox Sisters in 1929’s Singing in the Rain. What do you notice about the lighting?
  10. 10.  A film noir is designed to be a world of paranoia and entrapment  Male protagonist feels trapped and overwhelmed by a situation  Chance plays a larger role than fate  Heavy use of mise-en-scene to show craziness and entrapment:  Bars or lines in front or behind character  Tight framing  Canted shots  Odd angles  Slow tracking shots  Backward tracking shots Pickup on South Street (1953)
  11. 11.  A “dangerous woman” who traps or pulls the male protagonist (usually a common, everyday Joe) into a world of crime and danger.  She is sexy, dangerous, often filled with “mad love,” greed, or jealousy.  Often, one or the other, maybe both, will die.  The Spider Woman: Why would the femme fatale be called this as well?  Ensnares the hero in a web of danger, lies and death! Angelina Jolie in TheTourist (2010) Famke Janssen in Goldeneye (1995)
  12. 12.  Automobiles, trains, airplanes and boats are featured prominently in film noir.  These means of conveyance may be alternately utilized as:  Weapons  Places of isolation, or  Means of escape by the characters of the film. Casablanca (1942) TheTourist (2010)
  13. 13.  In film noir, a character’s costume or make-up design is meant to help illustrate his or her character to the audience  Film noir costumes may convey:  Wealth  Innocence  Guilt  Danger  Temptation Alexis Bledel, Jamie King & Mickey Rourke in Sin City (2005)
  14. 14.  Mirrors and glass – especially broken glass – figure centrally into many film noir.  Broken shards of glass are sharp and dangerous, yet fragile – a metaphor for life in a film noir.  Reflections in mirrors show that no one is exempt from reality, and that all characters are subject to the same rules.  Mirrors – and the turning of a mirror’s image – create apprehension on the viewer’s part. Something or someone could be on the other side! The Lady from Shanghai (1947) Sin City (2005)
  15. 15.  Even though pure film noir died out, its influence can still be seen today.  Small details have been appropriated from the classics (symbols, lighting, characters).  Some feel film noir must be black and white, while others feel that high contrast can be achieved through use of vivid colors.  Examples: Mulholland Drive (2001), Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988), TheTourist (2010) & The Black Dahlia (2006).
  16. 16.  Released by Warner Bros. Studios in 1942  Directed by Michael Curtiz  Stars Humphrey Bogart & Ingrid Bergman  Set inVichy-occupied WorldWar II-era Moroccan city of Casablanca  Elements To Watch For:  Film noir character relationships  Film noir mise-en-scene  Sense of chance vs. fate  Hero not wanting to be a hero