History and conventions of Film Noir

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History and conventions of Film Noir

  1. 1. History of Film Noir Liberty Cooper
  2. 2. Beginning of Film Noir • Film Noir was invented by French film critics who noticed the trend in how ‘dark’, downbeat and black the American crime and detective films were when released in the French theatres following the war. For example, The Maltese Falcon(1941), Double Indemnity(1944), Murder, My Sweet(1944), The Woman In The Window(1944) and Laura(1944) • Many films that were released in this time reflected the ‘chilly’ Cold War period where there were tensions and insecurities • Main themes that were found in these films were paranoia, bleakness, mistrust, despair and loss • The rarely happy endings of Film Noirs also reflected the criminal, violent and greedy perspectives of anti-heroes. These were a metaphoric symptom of society’s evils with moral conflict, purposelessness and a sense of injustice
  3. 3. Not a genre • Film Noir is not a genre but rather a style and mood or point of view • Film makers who released their film in this time period were not aware that their film would be labelled a ‘Noir’ as it was only due to the time period they were released in that made them be referred to as this. It was all down to the emotion and state in that time which was bleak and strenuous so any film released in this time was usually known as a ‘Noir’ • The primary moods within classic film noir were melancholy, moral corruption, alienation, guilt and desperation
  4. 4. Where ideas come from • The classic Film Noir’s were developed during and after World War II and evoked in the early 1940’s • From this, many films include post-war anxiety and suspicion • The last Film Noir was released in the 1960’s, the last one being Touch Of Evil(1958) • Women were given a new found independence and better earnings during the war so that would possibly influence the story lines where the femme fatale have power over the men through they sexuality
  5. 5. Story line • The story line was very often based around a male character that is delusional and easily falls for the femme fatale due to her outgoing female characteristics and sexual manipulation which often follows on to a murder • Usually by the end she is betrayed and destroyed as well • The characters which included detectives, gangsters, heroes (anti- heroes) and crooks, were often moral-ambiguous low-lifes. They are seen as quite distinctive because they will be obsessive, delusional, insecure and struggling to survive and usually overall losing to what they want • The storyline is usually nonlinear, twisted, complex and hard to understand • The music is usually jazz with flashbacks and first person voice-over narration
  6. 6. Moods • Film Noir is usually shot in black and white which portrays the gloomy lifestyle and stress which highlights how dark and brutal some peoples lives are • The whole mood of the films are usually highlighting suspicion and the idea that anything can go wrong at any point • All of this usually leads the protagonist to make mistakes because of their inner weakness
  7. 7. Lighting and camera work • There is an emphasis on expressionist lighting, disorientating camera work, juxtaposition of elements, shadows, unusual camera angles (usually diagonal) and excessive smoking and drinking • Inside the importance was usually based on low key lighting, windows, blinds and dark, gloomy, claustrophobic rooms. • Exterior scenes were usually urban settings, dark alleyways with low key lighting and lampposts that give off lots of light
  8. 8. Femme Fatale • The Femme Fatale in Film Noir’s usually have elements of being attractive, sexual towards the male protagonist, manipulative, mysterious, bitter-sweet and unreliable • The male protagonist usually falls for the femme fatale because of her insistence and becomes trapped in her web and has to decide whether to follow her dangerous plan

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