American actor, director and writer Written By: See Article History Alternative Title:
See Article History Film noir, French: Banned in occupied countries during the war, these films became available throughout Europe beginning in Pessimism and disillusionment became increasingly present in the American psyche during the Great Depression of the s and the world war that followed.
After the war, factors such as an unstable peacetime economy, McCarthyismand the looming threat of atomic warfare manifested themselves in a collective sense of uncertainty. The corrupt and claustrophobic world of film noir embodied these fears. In its place is the America of film noir: It is said that the themes of noir attracted European directors, who often felt like outsiders within the Hollywood studio system.
Such directors had been trained to emphasize cinematic style as much as acting and narrative in order to convey thought and emotion. Defining the genre Controversy exists as to whether film noir can be classified as a genre or subgenre, or if the term merely refers to stylistic elements common to various genres.
Film noir does not have a thematic coherence: The shadowy noir style can be traced to the German Expressionist cinema of the silent era. Caligari contains one of the best early examples of the lighting techniques used to inspire the genre.
Murnau Nosferatu; Sunrise The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari exerted a strong influence on the atmospheric lighting techniques of film noir. Classic images of noir included rain-soaked streets in the early morning hours; street lamps with shimmering halos; flashing neon signs on seedy taverns, diners, and apartment buildings; and endless streams of cigarette smoke wafting in and out of shadows.
Such images would lose their indelibility with realistic lighting or colour cinematography. Orson Welles in Citizen Kane An omniscient, metaphor-spouting narrator often the central character, a world-weary private eye frequently clarifies a characteristically labyrinthine noir plot or offers a subjective, jaded point of view.
Tension and suspense are increased by the use of all-knowing narrators and flashbacks, in that the audience is always cognizant of impending doom. The noir hero The heroes of noir generally share certain qualities, such as moral ambiguitya fatalistic outlook, and alienation from society.
They also exhibit an existential acceptance of random, arbitrary occurrences as being the determining factors in life. The ethics that these characters espouse are often borne more of personal code than true concern for their fellow man. The weakest of such characters exhibit an abundance of tragic flaws, often including an uncontrollable lust for duplicitous women.
Joan Bennett and Edward G.
Nevertheless, the women of film noir often evoke sympathy, as they are frequently victims of emotional or physical abuse, with such victimization providing impetus for their vengeance. They are trapped in passionless or violent marriages and resort to murder as a means of escape, usually destroying their conspiring paramours in the process.
Pickup on South Streetdirected by Samuel Fullerattacked postwar American capitalism; its central character is a man who accidentally acquires a top-secret microfilm but will only part with it for a price, no matter how that may jeopardize the safety of his country.
Both films are presented in classic film noir style, the latter in black-and-white.
Basinger, KimKim Basinger in L. Despite recognition of the elements common to film noir, most scholars and critics continue to employ their own definitions as to what constitutes the noir style.
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