Johnny Morrison (Alan Ladd): "You oughta have more sense than to take chances with strangers like this." Joyce Harwood (Veronica Lake): "It's funny, but practically all the people I know were strangers when I met them." This quote comes from “The Blue Dahlia” 1946 film directed by George Marshall. This film was created during the popular film noir era in 1940's, and is referenced in “The Black Dahlia” a film directed by Brian Da Palma which is his homage to the film noir era. This quote is relevant to “The Black Dahlia” because during the film we see a constant change in character perception. “The Black Dahlia” is a film that explores two former boxers who now are police officers in Los Angeles and there journey to solve a case of the a young aspiring actor who has been gruesomely murdered. The film receives the title “Black Dahlia” because that was the name attributed to the murder by the press. The film has multiple characters who are constantly developing and changing in the eyes on the main character and the audience until the last possible moment of the film. This movie genre could be classified as neo noir which is a film noir film created later then the 1970's. Though the film “The Black Dahlia” is a neo-noir film, it has many characteristic that resemble film noir through it's convention, formulas and expectations.
To further explain a neo noir film is necessary to explore the film noir genre. A film noir has many characteristic that make it a genre such as it's conventions, formulas and expectations. A film noir conventions usually follow a distinct trend such as characters being corrupt, cynical, antiheroic and possessing a dark pass. There is usually a detective figure and a seductive female who precipitates to the male protagonist's demise. The usually setting in film noir include dark,glistening streets, smoky dive bars, rented apartments and urban settings. The themes and moods that are provoked are crime,isolation,paranoia and femininity is enchanting but ultimately dangerous and unpredictable. Some narrative conventions include frequent male voice-overs, often regretful, difficult to follow narratives that have large twist and unhappy and bleak conclusions. Stylistic conventions are also important such as blackness and low key light. General expectation in a film noir are crime, jealously, adultery, blackmail, murder and double cross. All these characteristic are brought to light in the film “The Black Dahlia”.
Beginning from the first scene it is quite obvious that the film has embraced the film noir genre. We see the main character Bucky in a dark smoky room with a pessimistic voice over narrating before he began his boxing fight. Then the next scene is a chaotic downtown Los Angeles with large amounts of fighting in the dark grungy streets, this is continuing the theme of crime and chaos. Most settings in the film are dark and the lighting is dim with sharp black and shadows throughout. This trend is more neo noir rather then traditional film noir because of technological advancements used for this film. A prime example of this is during scene set in the office of detectives. There is a sharp black present with lights coming through the cartilage blinds that makes a diagonal impression casting over the blackness of the room. Another setting that is a convention of film noir is the boxing ring when Mr. Fire and Mr. Ice face off. Usually during a boxing match the whole arena is surrounded by large and very bright lights but in the film the boxing ring looks dark and almost dirty. This is giving the constant theme of darkness and all the feelings that are evoke by a film noir does.
Characters in film noir generally have similar qualities and “The Black Dahlia” expresses this stereotype. The character of Bucky exerts many similar film noir traits such as cynical, corruption and antiheroic. In the voice over's during the film we constantly are listening to Bucky and his pessimistic...
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