Noir Film Analysis

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To pinpoint the exact influences of what we know today as film noir can result in a convoluted mess. Film noir itself is not necessarily a genre in the same way the western or musical is. Film noir is characterized by shadowy cinematography, thematic elements, and a generally somber and cynical mood. The notable films generally accepted as the characteristically noir include White Heat, Double Indemnity, The Big Heat, Detective Story, The Maltese Falcon and several others. Modern viewers might be familiar with noir-inspired films like Chinatown, Who Framed Roger Rabbitt, L.A. Confidential, and Sin City. The following will be an investigation of the early influences of this diverse yet very familiar non genre, which has its roots in several…show more content…
First off there are key technical elements found in later noir films: Most of the scenes are lit for night. Lights are dimmed, and outside light illuminates dark interiors. Oblique and vertical lines are preferred to Horizontal, as it was with the German Expressionist films. Light also is made into unsettling polygonal or broken shapes. The light is of great importance in the storytelling process. The actors and environment are usually given equal lighting emphasis to such a degree that the characters’ world becomes a character in of itself, this was in contrast to one of the norms established by Warner Bros. in which the characters were starkly accentuated by shadows. Paul Schrader states that this cinematographic choice it “creates a fatalistic hopeless mood. There is nothing the protagonist can do; the city will outlast and even negate his best efforts.” (7, Schrader) Steady composition is prefered over physical action.The cinematography moves the actor, which as opposed to the actors moving the cinematography. The protagonist tends to be a male of ambiguous moral standing. The noir hero tends to be grounded in the present and even nostalgic for the past. Noir tries to survive the hardships of the day, and if he dosn’t, he retreats into nostalgia. There tends to be an emphasis on the protagonists’ losses, lack of clear priorities and overall sense of meaningless and fatalism. In many instances, the…show more content…
Noir films were generally much more pessimistic in nature than other films. The intent was to explore a darker reality, and a shadier underworld than what was usually portrayed. The film noir movement in its entirety has to be seen against the convoluted history that came before it. Darker themes, environments, and characters stemmed from the difficulty of coping with a rapidly changing world. As the industrial world was drifting into insanity, violence and despair, harrowing stoies came about because of it. In several ways, film was becoming something like a mirror, even in its distortions. As Carl Richardson points out. “realism is only possible when the power of the image is unleashed with naked honesty. Distortion, doctoring, and the exaggeration of the subject material make realism possible.” (13, Richardson) While the influence of German Expressionism is apparent, filmmakers borrowed heavily from French Poetic realism , as an art movement, emerged from the socio-poltical atmosphere of post-WWI France and gained precedence in the early 1930’s. In poertic-realist films, there is a notable emphasis on what was known as mise-en-scene, translated literally to “put into the scene”. This meant that the importance set-dressing, and lighting were de-emphasized. Poetic realism is supposed to be the recreation of realism, but not inthe same way as documentary film. Therefore, they tend

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