Movie Genres: Film Noir–Cinema’s Most Popular Genre

Is film noir a singular genre recurring through time with an unrestricted life span?  Or is it a time-bound cycle, a congealing of forces and attitudes operating in a specific era?

Theorists have long been preoccupied with the question of whether noir is a distinct genre or a style that operates across generic boundaries. For Paul Schrader, noir is not a genre because, unlike Westerns or gangsters, it is not defined by conventions of setting and conflict, but by the “subtle qualities of tone and mood.” This mood was described by J.P. Telotte as a longing for temps perdu, “an irretrievable past, a predetermined fate and an all-enveloping hopelessness.” In his Film Encyclopedia, Ephraim Katz defines noir also in terms of mood: “a type of film that is characterized by its dark, somber tone and cynical, pessimistic mood.”

Noir as Genre and Visual Style

Others argue that visual style is what unites the diverse body of films comprising the noir universe. But if noir is a style, the question is what specifically constitutes that style. Needless to say, each definition of noir leads to the exclusion and inclusion of particular films. But no matter how it is defined, most scholars agree that noir represents a combination of iconographic, stylistic, narrative, and thematic elements.

The strongest argument for noir as a genre is its literary origins in the hard-boiled fiction of the 1930s and 1940s. Like the Western, noir’s literary conventions and thematic concerns went beyond the realm of cinema. As Schrader points out, the hard-boiled school created a tough, cynical way of thinking and acting, separate from the world of everyday emotions. It was the American counterpart to European existentialism, a romanticism with a protective shell, with cynical heroes who reached the end of the line.
Perpetually reborn in American cinema, noir enjoyed a major revival in the 1980s, in the work of David Lynch and the Coen brothers. And it is even more apparent in the 1990s, in the films of Tarantino and his offshoots. The reason for the continuous fascination may be simple: noir strikes responsive chords of fear, anguish and desire indigenous to American life. Noir’s brutal frankness in dealing with the primal subjects of sex, greed, and death is as relevant today as it was in the 1940s.

Neo-Noir and Indie Cinema

Neo-noir continues to bewitch young filmmakers, who love its glamour but often misunderstand its existential consequences. Distinctions should be made in the growing body of neo-noir among directors who update the genre, those who reinvent it, or those who just use it as a point of departure. There have been pastiches (Body Heat), straight remakes (The Postman Always Rings Twice), efforts to resuscitate the noir universe by combining it with another genre, like Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, which mixes noir and sci-fi, and even parodies (Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid).

Specific political and cultural conditions of the 1940s and 1950s saw noir at its zenith: Post-War disillusionment, the German artistic influence, the impact of Freudian psychology, the hard-boiled literary tradition, the dread of the atomic bomb and nuclear holocaust. The combination of these conditions helped define the noir tonality and vocabulary. Noir’s anti-heroic vision was generated in response to the War horrors and problems that beset post-WWII America society, such as urban crime and political corruption. Noir films dealt with the loss of honor, the decline of integrity, the rise of despair, alienation and disintegration.

The advent of Italian neo-realism, with its emphasis on on-location shooting gave film noir verisimilitude in portraying dark, sinister environments. The realist movement suited America’s post-WWII mood, and actual location shooting became the norm. The public’s desire for a more honest, harsh portrayal of life shifted noir from high-class melodrama to the streets of the cities. But Expressionist studio lighting, imported to Hollywood by German directors, was not incompatible with realistic exteriors. Noir welded seemingly contradictory elements into a unified style: Unnatural, stylized lighting was directed into realistic settings.

Los Angeles as Noir Capital

Despite the fact that the label was given by French critics, noir is a uniquely American form, one that has outlasted Westerns, screwball comedies, and musicals. Noir is indigenous to Los Angeles, the “last frontier” of the American Dream. It’s not a coincidence that writers like Raymond Chandler, Ross MacDonald, James Ellroy and Elmore Leonard have set their tales in L.A. a city that occupies a special place in our collective fantasy. To the millions of Americans emigrants, L.A. represented the end of the rainbow–the promised land: The land was cheap, the space vast, the weather accommodating. The new economy and culture also encouraged the development of cults and fashions that exemplified the country’s achievements and failures.

Los Angeles also became the home of the world’s greatest dream factory–Hollywood. As a metaphor, L.A. became, on the one hand, the city of eternal sunshine where prayers are answered, and on the other, the end of the continent. Not surprisingly, the gap between expectations and reality has been a major theme of noir. When noir is set somewhere else, the film succeeds if the new location suggests California’s sprawling seediness and sunlit vulgarity. Body Heat takes place in Florida, but its landscape, architecture and manner evoke L.A. of the 1940s.

New directors have been intrigued by noir’s distinct vocabulary: voice-over narration and subjective camera. As a privileged way of seeing, subjective camera emphasizes point-of-view, challenging “normal” perspective by forcibly aligning the viewers with a specific way of seeing. Subjective camera is concerned with heightened expression–the relationship of external events with inner feelings.

Noir Villains

Of the wide gallery of noir protagonists, the most prevalent types in neo-noir continue to be corrupt, neurotic cops, psychotic killers, ruthless con artists, cynical hit men. However, in neo-noir, the gap between heroes and villains has considerably narrowed: Both are portrayed as cynical, disillusioned, insecure loners, inextricably bound to the past and uncertain of the future.

In classic noir, the seedy, malignant characters in the background made the lead characters (played by major movie stars) shine. But at present, the peripheral characters and villains, often played by Christopher Walken, Michael Madsen or Christopher Penn, are more interesting than the central one. Reflecting the moral chaos in the society at large, in the new noir, villains have become more sympathetic, their charm masking malevolent perversity.

Women in noir were cast not as wives or mothers, but in overtly sexual roles that allowed them to exert control over men. Linking women’s sexuality with destruction represents deep male anxieties, fears of women’s sexual power. Noir women presented a challenge to the restoration of a patriarchal-capitalist order in which men are in control. Neo-noir continues to draw on women’s threatening sexuality, but, if in the past, noir rebuked women’s independence and looked toward the restoration of traditional family values, at present, patriarchal values are more fractured.

Attempting to explain why noir has never died in American film, scholars have suggested that whenever there is a deep rift or disruption in values, one way to express it artistically is through film noir. In the 1970s, as a result of the Vietnam War and the Watergate scandal, distrust of government and paranoia became major themes in a cycle of noirish films that included Chinatown, The Conversation, The Parallax View, Three Days of the Condor, All the President Men and Nashville, all made between 1974 and 1976.

The dark, twisty territory of noir–a shadowy world dominated by fatalism, pessimism and romantic despair–is the drug of choice for today’s filmmakers. Kenneth Turan has observed that hardly a month passes without one filmmaker or another attempting a noir, so strong is the lure of this brooding genre. While most of neo noir are content to mimic the surface moodiness and stylishness of the classics, the good ones also echo their emotional impact. For Turan, the noir essentials boil down to an intricate plot that ebbs and flows in unexpected places, dialogue that is juicy and wise-assed, and characters whose anguish is easy to connect with.

For the most part, the new noir directors draw on a now codified style with its visual conventions: Deco titles, heat waves, flames, ceiling fans, shadowed window blinds, tinkling wind chimes, rainy nights in neon-city, muted voices, hopped-up dialogue. The hardboiled double-entendre, which was developed in the 1940s as a way around the restrictive Production Code, seems ludicrous in contemporary films filled with profanity and nudity.

Noir’s visual codes include: Somber black and white photography; low-key lighting; oblique camera set-ups; use of extreme camera angles to emphasize a dark oppressive tone; tight framing to underline themes of claustrophobia and entrapment; compositional tension to create an atmosphere of eerie menace, deliberately disquieting editing.

Style in Hollywood movies has become more assertive and pronounced, but no more personal. Ambitious indie directors strive for personal and original works, but they often fall victims to cliches. That the noir style has become over-calculated and deterministic, is evident in a body of cliches, summed up by one critic in the following way: a man drinking black coffee in an isolated roadhouse; a neon sign blinks on and off with one letter missing in seedy bars; men wearing trench coats; a ceiling fan even in the dead of winter; a hero spilling his guts in voice-over narration; rooms dominated by mirrors; unfiltered cigarette and overflowed ashtrays; drinking whisky (straight) in a barroom during the day; wet and glistening streets with shadowy figures, even when there’s no trace of rain; a muted trumpet moans plaintively in the night; men have pocket handkerchiefs; a body lies face down in a pool of blood.

Pop culture has provided young directors with material that stimulates their more serious artistic instincts. American film history has played a little joke on educated Americans. For Americans who wish movies to be civilized, mature, ennobling, crime films cause dismay. But, as often happens in American film, fresh, creative energy has come up from the bottom, from tabloid thrills, lurid pulp fiction, cheap horror flicks, and comic books.

Noir and Fashion

Bogart, always elegantly dressed; 3 piece suits

Bogart’s wardrobe in Beat the Devil

Claire Trevor won more different hats than other femmes in noir

If you want to know more about this issue, please read my book Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film (NYU Press).

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbethttps://bsport.fithttps://onbet88.ooohttps://i9bet.bizhttps://hi88.ooohttps://okvip.athttps://f8bet.athttps://fb88.cashhttps://vn88.cashhttps://shbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter