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Pulp Fiction: Shortcomings of a "Neo Noir"

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Pulp Fiction: Shortcomings of a "Neo Noir"

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  • Feb. 2013
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Pulp Fiction: Shortcomings of a “Neo-Noir”
The remarkable stylistic conventions of classical film noir have made it one of the most memorable and recognizable film genres to this day. Each film noir picture is uniquely told though it use of degrees of darkness, contrasting lighting, rain-covered city streets, isolated protagonist, and devious dames that effortlessly lure men into a cold trap of criminal deeds. Pulp Fiction, a film by Quentin Tarantino, is said to be one of film noir’s strongest roots with its setting of a dark, criminal underworld. While the film does play around the edges of traditional film noir, it cannot be accurately be claimed a “neo-noir” due to several variances it takes with some of the most fundamental elements of film noir. Many visual and narrative devices have taken a different route in such a manner that one cannot classify it as conventional film noir. One of the most obvious breaks that Pulp Fiction makes from traditional film noir is the film being shot primarily in the daytime. When one thinks of film noir, they automatically think darkness because it is always the film’s visual theme. The symbolic use of heavy shadows and key lighting is what makes film noir so great and gives the overall grim mood to the picture. When the murders occur the lighting is very dark, and most of the time, only illuminates the killers face as he is firing the bullets such as in The Killers when the two assassins come and kill the Swede. This style shows how emotionless the murders are as we only focus on their face from the lighting, thus giving the audience a very cold and dark feeling. We never get this feeling or situation in Pulp Fiction as all of the killing is done in the daytime, with the room well lit. There are no murders at night; in fact there are only two night scenes shot in the entire movie. There is not as much emotion or overall visual effect that we usually see with murders in film noir.

A similarity we see between classic...