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NEO-NOIR CONVENTIONS

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Anna Antwi

on 8 November 2014

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Transcript of NEO-NOIR CONVENTIONS

Watchmen (2006)
Chiaroscuro lighting is high contrast lighting that uses contrasting effects of light and shade. It was used a lot in classic noir films but has transitioned into neo-noir.

However, in neo-noir films colour is used to add contrast, rather than light and shadows. The lighting is used to emphasise characters or details in a particular scene.

An example of this technique in a neo-noir film is
Watchmen (2006)
. The technique is also seen in
Blade Runner (1982)
.
CHIAROSCURO LIGHTING
Blade Runner (1982)
Chiaroscuro lighting and shadows can be used to present the illusion of bars across the faces of characters.

For example, in
Blade Runner (1982)
, the shadows from the venetian blinds are cast across the characters' faces.

An example of a frame within a frame is in The
Usual Suspects (1995)
, where a character is seen in a frame in front of a door frame.
BARS, DIAGONALS & FRAMES WITHIN FRAMES
The Dark Knight (2008)
These are odd angles and frames for visual effect. The camera shots are not at straight angle, which may cause a perturbing effect on the audience.

Dutch and inverted frames may reflect the instability of characters in the film, as the themes in neo-noir tend to be dark and the characters aren't perfect. The characters may have troubled pasts.

This technique was used mainly in classic noir films, but it is used in some neo-noir films such as
The Dark Knight (2008)
.
DUTCH ANGLES & INVERTED FRAMES
True Detective (2014).
The 6 minute long tracking shot is from 0:38 to 6:33
Long tracking shots are continuous shots that don't have cuts. They are filmed in a single take and is a prominent feature in neo-noir.

An example of this is in the neo-noir drama series,
True Detective (2014)
.
LONG TRACKING SHOTS AND DEEP FOCUS
NEO-NOIR CONVENTIONS
Heat (1995)
Obscured backgrounds are a common feature of neo-noir. Examples of this are fogs, smoke, steam and rain.

For example, in the film
Heat (1995)
there is fog and smoke obscuring the scene on the highway. This creates an eerie atmosphere which is often prominent in neo-noir films.
OBSCURED SCENES
URBAN SETTINGS FILMED MOSTLY AT NIGHT
Brick (2005)
Urban settings were used a lot in classic noir films and are used now in neo-noir films also. They can be used in dark settings at night to create a sense of isolation. This is used a lot in
Brick (2005)
e.g. when the protagonist is in a phone box.
The Dark Knight (2008)
also uses a lot of industrial and city scape locations filmed at night, which was a common convention of classic noir films.

However, neo-noir films can also use bright sunlight or snow to convey isolation (a common theme in these films). This is mainly due to the fact that the widespread colour palette can highlight bright shades of light. For example, this is seen in
Fargo (1996)
.
Taxi Driver (1976)
Crime and violence is a prominent convention of the neo-noir genre and can also be portrayed very over the top to emphasise its significance in the narrative/plot.

Crime and violence is typically used to convey an idea or message about the character.

For example, in
Taxi Driver (1976)
violence is used to portray Travis Bickle's mental state.
CRIME & VIOLENCE
Blade Runner (1982)
The Usual Suspects (1995)
Fargo (1996)
FIRST PERSON VOICE-OVER NARRATION
WATER & REFLECTIONS
CYNICAL, WORLD-WEARY PROTAGONISTS
FEMME FATALE
COMPLEX PLOTS & ANALEPSIS
FALSE ACCUSATIONS & BETRAYAL
UNRELIABLE NARRATORS
PROTAGONIST'S PERSONAL CODE
EROTICISM & SEXUALITY
This is a prominent feature in classic noir films. It is also used in neo-noir films, but not as much as it is used in classic noir films.

An example of first person voice-over narration in neo-noir is in the film,
Sin City (2005)
Sin City (2005)
Water and reflections were used a lot in classic noir films. However, they do feature in neo-noir as well.

For example, water and reflections is very significant in the neo-noir film,
Brick (2005)
Watchmen (2006)
This convention focuses on the protagonist's background and their flaws, making them questionable.

This feature was used a lot is classic noir films and has been transferred into neo-noir.

Examples include, Travis Bickle in
Taxi Driver (1976)
and Somerset in
Se7en (1995).


Taxi Driver (1976)
Se7en (1995)
These personal codes that protagonists live by are apparent in classic noir films and also in neo-noir films. The codes tend to be chivalric or a criminal code of some sort.

An example of this is seen in
The Following (1998)
. The protagonist, Bill set strict rules for him to follow strangers on the streets of London. Bill also commits a burglary and a murder to protect a woman's honour. This is also seen in a classic noir film Double Indemnity, where Walter Neff murders Phyllis's husband (a woman he has fallen in love with). Therefore, it is evident that a lot of classic noir conventions have been transferred into neo-noir - they are closely related.
The Following (1998)
The femme fatale is a significant female character in classic noir and still is significant in neo-noir. However, in recent neo-noir films, the femme fatale sometimes changes as more sympathetic female characters have become prominent. Sometimes the more sympathetic female substitutes the iconic femme fatale. But quite often in neo-noir films there is a blurring of lines between the protagonist and the femme fatale.

An example of an iconic femme fatale Catherine Tramell in
Basic Instinct (1992)
.
Basic Instinct (1992)
A complex plot is a key characteristic of neo-noir films, which involve plot twists. An example of this is the film,
The Big Lebowski (1998)
.

As well as complex plots, neo-noir films often feature analepsis. Analepsis is an achronological narrative (the narrative isn't displayed in chronological order). This typically shown through flashbacks and flash-forwards. This is featured in the neo-noir film
Pulp Fiction (1994)
.
Pulp Fiction (1994)
The Big Lebowski (1998)
This is more prominent in neo-noir than in classic noir. Neo-noir pushes the boundaries a lot more when is comes to eroticism and sexuality.

For example, there is evidence of violent sexuality in
History of Violence (2005)
. Sexuality and eroticism is also seen in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships in neo-noir films such as
Bound (1996)
. Sexuality in homosexual relationships wouldn't have been seen in classic noir films but society has changed over the years and homosexual relationships have become evident in neo-noir films.
Bound (1996)
False accusations, betrayal and double crosses are key characteristics of the neo-noir genre. They often add to the complexity of the narratives in neo-noir films.

For example, in
Sin City (2005)
, Hartigan is betrayed by his partner and is accused of several crimes that he didn't commit and is convicted for them.
This convention features in neo-noir films a lot (and a lot more than in classic noir films).

An example of this is in the film
Memento (2000)
. In this film the narrator suffers from amnesia, making him unreliable because he is trying to remember through the use of Polaroid pictures and is easily led astray.
Sin City (2005)
Memento (2000)
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