Film Noir

Topics: Film noir, Low-key lighting, Cinema of the United States Pages: 2 (494 words) Published: December 3, 2012
In the French language, the aesthetic movement and phenomenal style in cinema, called film noir, translates as “black film.” Being made in Hollywood, USA, most of film noirs were created by American directors and screenwriters. The scripts to such films were heavily inspired by 1930’s and 1940’s proletarian men who had a “hard-boiled” style of writing. As an aesthetic movement, it has historically mirrored wartime and postwar American periods. Both reflecting and dramatizing the “mood” created by these unique American experiences, film noirs dealt with “despair and alienation as a disoriented America readjusts to a new social and political reality” (Belton 221). They often portrayed behavioral deviance, and held themes of crime, corruption, cruelty, and lust. However, film noir was especially established as an aesthetic movement for its ability to devise an uncomfortable experience for spectators. During the prewar classical Hollywood cinema period, American films turned significantly “grimmer, bleaker, and blacker” (221). A lot of their characteristics were noticeably influenced by American pulp fiction, and many noirs were adaptations of hard-boiled novels. Through their interruption of traditional film narrative and style of classical Hollywood cinema, film noir created a surreal style, by giving audiences a certain experience when they watch the film. Though recent scholars treat film noir as a genre because of predictable iconography techniques, other film critics contend that it is but a mode, much like the melodramatic modal that can be found in numerous genres. Its distinctive style is that it is dark, but even westerns, gangster films, melodramas, costume pictures, musicals, and even comedies can function with its noir feel. The “low key lighting becomes the norm, replacing the pre-noir norm of cheerful, high-key lighting setups” (223). For a film’s theme to hold noir characteristics, it needs only a moment, situation, single character, or scene to...
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