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Whose bonnets touch the firmament --
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Meek at whose everlasting feet
A myriad daisy play --
Which, Sir, are you and which am I
Upon an August day?

Emily Dickinson
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Noir and neo-noir films

In the early 1940s a new style in the american cinema was developed, called film noir. Being a product of the time, the style reflected the psychological atmosphere of the Great Depression and WWII.

Film noir was influenced by the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in 1930s. And it is from that school of crime fiction, the new cinematographic style derived its typical features. As a rule, the films have the atmosphere of risk, confusion, cruelty, desperation, cynicism, and dark erotism.

It is not uncommon for the classical noir film, when a cynical private detective, being a protagonist in a film, get involved in a story full of entangled relationships and dangers. Sometimes the main character may be just an common man, rogue, policeman, or even a young boy . There are a lot of options.

Alhought there is an uncertainty concerning an admitting the noir film as a distinct genre, but the following hallmarks are often considered as key :

1. The word 'noir' meaning 'dark, black' in French, is a quite well description of the visual style of the film noir as well as others its features. The strong contrast of light and darkness, the play of shadows, shots of people reflected in mirrors, and the unstandard angles of camera , often are typical features.

2. An inconsistent and convoluted narration, often including flashbacks.

3. Murder, adultery, conspiracy and the feelings of jealosy and greed, are often important elements of a plot.

4. The athmosphere of cynicism, corruption, pessimism and desperation as well as the alienation of the main character.

5. A femme fatale (fatal woman) who often incites a protagonist to dangerous relationships, criminal actions and even sometimes becomes the main villain in a film.

Many films noir had low budgets, but by the late 1950s, Hollywood had entirely stopped producing them. People were inclined to watch comedies, peplums and so on. But in the 1970s the interest to that cinemtic style restored, and so called neo-noir films started to appear.

The lists of both classical noir and neo-noir films may be found on the Internet. Though, such lists are probably subjective, because of the lack of an clear definition what the noir film is.

Personally, I watched the following films:

1. Gilda (1946)
2. The lady from Shanghai (1947)
3. The window (1949)
4. D.O.A (1949)
5. Notorious (1946)
6. Chinatown (1974) - neo-noir.
7. Miller's crossing (1990) - neo-noir
8. Blue velvet (1986) - neo-noir
9. Angel heart (1987) - neo-noir
10. L.A. Confidetial (1997) - neo-noir
11. Blade Runner (1982) - a science fiction film having also some features
of neo-noir
12. Inherent Vice (2014) - neo-noir
13. Taxi driver (1976) - neo-noir
14. The machinist (2004) - have some features of neo-noir
15. Fight club (1999) - have some neo-noir features

Have you ever watched classic noir or neo-noir films ? What do you think of them?


  • mheredgemheredge Posts: 39,659 ✭✭✭✭
    I'm not sure if I have seen any of these films @SunInVirgo (except maybe Blade Runner). So I have a bit of catching up to do.
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