If there is one thing that I love about the world of movie making, is that it keeps up with the happening of the world, it has always been like that and hopefully it will always be like that. Movie makers assess the state of the world an always try to give the consumer something to escape reality with or something to relate reality to, it happened like that also with the beginning of film noir. The world was in turmoil and the movie world needed to entertain without condescension, during and after WWII the world was broken and not only the buildings and streets that needed reconstruction and it wasn’t just the physical state of the people that needed mending but also their spirits.
I’m pretty sure that the movie makers themselves had ghost that would not let them be and an outlet was needed, and the outlet became film noir.
Film noir is a term that was used by French film critics to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas that dominated in the 1930s, 1940s and the 1950s, it translate as ‘black film’. It got its name when Nino Frank who was one of the French film critics noted ho ‘dark’ American crime and detective film that got released in French theatres were. The ‘dark’ was accurate because in film noir not only is the setting of the film is dark but the plot and the characters too. Film noir films reflected the state of the world.
It is hard to pinpoint what film noir is but it as a step away from the optimism of Hollywood’s musicals and comedies. It was never agreed that film noir is a genre, some say it is a style and others it is a mood of a film and yet again some say it is a tone a film, a capsule of a film.as much as people couldn’t say that it was they also couldn’t say what made a film noir, which is why Mark Bould a cinema historian said film noir is an “elusive phenomenon… always just out of reach”. Even the makers of film noir cannot tell you straight about what film noir is, and that is understandable because at the time they didn’t know that they were making film noir, it was only after people started calling the films noir that they were like_ oh ok film noir it is then.
The first makers of film noir filmed noir because it was necessary they made low budget movies because they didn’t have money, they used low key lighting and low movies because they didn’t have resources to not. And because film noir movies were B film the creators were free from the constraints that came with big productions and this made them let they plots run, they were free to express the fear, mistrust, loss of innocence and despair of the time with the violent misogynistic and greedy perspectives of their characters.
The 1940s up to the 1950s is known as the golden period of film noir, and the pioneers of the period are the likes of directors Fritz Lang, Boris Ingster; faces of Robert Mitchum and Fred MacMurray were known as the of the anti-heroes you root for in the films and the guys that gets played by their femme fatale.
Each and every film noir had primary characters and those ere:
Protagonist- these are the guys you root for, good or bad. They somehow find themselves dragged in the world of crime and the more they try to get out, the more they get entangled, these usually have conflicted personalities.
Femme fatale- these are the girls that know what they want and will do everything to get it, they are not afraid to get their hands dirty but would rather have someone else do their dirty work for them and when the job is done they probably kill whomever the person is.
The detective- he is very conflicted and also sometimes find himself drawn into crime, he in a ay sympathizes the crime.
The businessmen- they are crooks in suits
A lone wolf- he doesn’t want to be bothered (but never gets what he wants). In many instances he becomes the first suspect of a crime he didn’t commit.
Film noir movies were set around doom, betrayal and moral corruption: evil and desperation. You would get a guy that meets a beautiful lady and he would be desperate to get attention and love from this woman, but the woman would have ulterior motives, evil motives and the gloomy setting, the dark rooms and alleys would add to that.
Low key lighting as used and that meant shadows ominous shadows; the high contrast_ all these emphasized the twisted and complex happenings of the film
Film noir took movie making to the streets quite literally, the locations dimly lit or dark streets. Film noir was the classification of the aftermath of WWII: the chaotic emotional state the people were left with and the economical state that were caused by the wartime scarcities.
Film noir was refreshing and still is, its rawness was inspired and is inspiring.