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Film Noir conventions

A presentation on the conventions of film noir
by

Hannah Worboys

on 9 January 2013

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Transcript of Film Noir conventions

Double Indemnity (1944) - Venetian blinds Generally found conventions in film noir - Symbolism (e.g. Venetian blinds = trapped)
- Femme Fatale (seductive female)
- Shadows
- Chiaroscuro (light and shade or dark)
- Neon lights
- Geometric patterns (e.g. stairs)
- Rain (weather used to reflect mood)
- Dark, low key lighting
- Non-diegetic sound
- Ambiant sound
- Wounds and blood are not visible/ shown
- Large amount of violence but it is not seen
- Guns
- Use of innuendos
- Suspense and paranoia Film Noir - Femme Fatale The Maltese Falcon (1941) - Suspense and paranoia & Murder Hannah Worboys Conventions of Film Noir A style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism and menace (Oxford Dictionary) - Moral corruption
- Murder
- Gloomy and dimly lit settings
- Urban Settings
- Voice over narration usually from a first persons perspective
- Flashbacks
- Alcohol and cigarettes - Moral corruption, Guns, Shadows & Violence is not seen The Pretender (1947) M (1931) Film noir started during the second World War at a time when everything was limited, rationed. The term film noir translates as black film and was given to Hollywood films of a particular genre by Nino Frank in 1946. The classic period of Hollywood film noir generally refers to the period from the early 1940’s to the late 1950’s where the films where characterised as being low budget, without major film stars. However the components of film noir can be seen in films of the 1930’s. On an aesthetic level film noir was influenced by German expressionism which affected lighting and some of the visual components and symbolism. The major literary influence was the American crime, gangster and detective stories and novels. Film noir emerged with as having a number of key features, which included a concentration on crime, violence (although not seen), a woman of uncertain virtue. Some of the films had a bleak ending but others were more uplifting. Film noir tended to be gritty and real compared with Hollywood’s idealistic happy ever after view of life. Film noir became more and more violent as it went along and tried to disprove the American dream. Most of the films were black and white with a few exceptions which again contributed to the importance in the use of light and shadow and gave emphasis to the mood and theme. Low lighting, a rigid contrast between light and dark, the use of shadows including patterning (Chiaroscuro), actors faces obscured in darkness or shadow were key. The films tended to be shot using low angle, wide angle or skewed angle shots to give a sense of disorientation. Alongside this objects such as mirrors and frosted glass would also be used. The storyline in film noir tended not to be a straight forward narrative. Flashbacks, narration by the first person as well as voice over narration are all devices used to deliver an often complex narrative. The plots and characters revolve around crime with often murder, greed and jealousy essential components. A private eye or detective is often featured but whilst other stories involve conspiracies featuring cons, murders, betrayals, affairs and double crosses. The hero may be flawed character will dubious morals and one alienated because of a particular character trait. How has Film Noir influenced the film industry today? L.A. Confidential is a prime example of how Film Noir has influenced our screens and films today. L.A. Confidential (1997) captured film noir innovative style and stylistic qualities with its use of the conventions and feel that the original genre centered around. It played with the ideas of solitude and loneliness for its characters and produced the setting of the dark, gritty, neon lit scenes within the busy city. It also includes the theme of corruption, urban type setting and venetian blinds.
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