Influences Of Film Noir

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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…
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 to be studio-bound and stylized. Whole city blocks are recreated within a studio and thus become almost inauthentic. While the setting and mis-en-scene create a realistic atmosphere, the narrative allows poetic symbolism. The symbolism itself expresses a fatalistic attitude. The characters’ gestures, movements, verbal and non-verbal communication are markers for such an attitude. Lighting also helps move the narrative visually. The protagonist tends to be side-lit, or the space around him may
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