1st article in our series on Film Noir
Unless you are a Cinematographer, Director, Editor or Screenwriter etc… the term Film Noir is often misunderstood by many (me included) as a genre. It was not until watching Christopher Nolan’s (non-linear storytelling film) Memento that I learned how influenced he was by Noir’s style. In this article we will explore the origins and style of Film Noir plus, look into how it’s evolved today.
The Origin of Film Noir Style: By Open Book
Many say Film Noir began after World War II and ended in 1958 in America. James Ellroy (Author of LA Confidential) gives a great description of Film Noir from the documentary Film Noir: Brining Darkness to Light. He states;
“Here’s what film noir is to me. It’s a righteous, generically American film movement that went from 1945 to 1958 and exposited one great theme. And that theme is: You’re fucked.” (Watch video below)
The video clip above is only a small part of the documentary Film Noir: Bringing Darkness to Light and highly suggest watching it in its entirety.
However, let’s revisit what exactly Film Noir style is?
- Primary Characters: Both women and men are portrayed equally good and equally bad. There’s no favoritism.
- Existentialist and Freudian themes
- A lot of sexual innuendo’s (without the act)
- Non-Linear Storytelling
- The Story often begins with a narration.
- The camera angles are often abstract to create the feeling of uncertainty.
- Lighting is dark with a lot of emphasis on negative space rather than positive.
- The most authentic Film Noir is Black & White film although there are colored Film Noir.
- The movie Maltese Falcon is considered the best representation of Film Noir style. The story is set in San Francisco.
Film Noir Present Day Style: By Parisienne
Film Noir is still going strong with contemporary film consumers. The Noir City Film Festival takes place in San Francisco at the Castro Theater.
Out of the film recommendations listed which one is your favorite and why?