- Slides: 14
Film Noir “Black Film” Or “Dark Film”
The film noir genre was born from crime films: u audiences grew bored with the criminal protagonist. u wanted more of a hero during war times u more intelligent: German Expressionists heavily influenced with mise-enscene. Lasted from 1945 -ish to 1950 ish. They became simplified and too common. Did leave a lasting impression Some film noir films have criminals and private eyes, but not all private eye or crime films are film noir.
There is no true definition of a film noir, yet many contain similar characteristics. Darkness represents two ideas: Darkness of setting Darkness of humanity Humphrey Bogart in The Maltese Falcon (1941)
Darkness of the Setting Cities: Mean, nasty places where anything can happen at any moment u Violence and crime occur often, usually randomly u Sex: strip clubs, bars, sultry women abound u Cities are grimy, dirty places with lots of shadows. u
Fog: u Fog obscures, makes unclear and unknown. u Fate, mystery, future. Casablanca (1942) Water: What Lies Beneath (2000) u What lies under the water? u Rarely can the audience see below the surface of water. u Sometimes choppy and tumultuous
Lighting: u Film noir uses high contrast lighting with lots of shadows. u Sometimes props are the only source of light u This is called low key lighting. – Little key lighting (principle source of light) – Mostly fill light (lights from side or back) – Comedies, musicals use high key lighting to create uniform light with little contrast
What do you see for lighting in this image of Bogart from Casablanca (1942)? Notice the Brox Sisters in 1929’s Singing in the Rain. What do you notice about the lighting?
Darkness of Humanity: It’s a world of paranoia and entrapment u Male protagonist feels trapped and overwhelmed by a situation u Chance plays a larger role than fate u Heavy use of mise-en-scene to show craziness and entrapment: – Bars or lines in front or behind character – Tight framing – Canted shots – Odd angles – Slow tracking shots – Backward tracking shots
Femme Fatale u u A “dangerous woman” who traps or pulls the male protagonist (usually a common, everyday Joe) into a world of crime and danger. She is sexy, dangerous, often filled with “mad love, ” greed, or jealousy. Often, one or the other, maybe both, will die. The Spider Woman. Why would the femme fatale be called this as well? – Ensnares the hero in a web of danger, lies and death
u Fog, water, cities, shadows Other Symbols: – All show obscurity or the unknown mystery u Transportation: – Used as a weapon or a place of isolation and escape – Cars, trains, planes, boats Double Indemnity (1944)
u Clothing: Remember Marion’s clothing in Psycho (1960)? – Symbol of status, power, innocence or guilt u Mirrors and glass: – Sharp and dangerous yet fragile, like life – Shows all people are the same – Something might be hidden behind a mirror The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Postmodern Film Noir Even though film noir died out, it still exists: – Small details have been taken from the classics (symbols, lighting, characters) – Some feel film noir must be black and white, others feel that high contrast can be achieved through vivid colors Examples: Blade Runner (1982), The Usual Suspects (1995), Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
The hero and the femme fatale from Blade Runner (1982) Two stills from The Usual Suspects (1995)
Casablanca (1942) Directed by Michael Curtiz – with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman Watch for: -Film noir character relationships -Sense of chance vs. fate -Hero not wanting to be a hero