Film Noir

About film noir:

From the review of Le Doulos: 
The term “film noir” was coined by French critics to describe a class of mostly B-grade Hollywood films of the 1930s and 1940s that covered the criminal underworld, in which the “heroes” as well as the villains were cynical, disillusioned lawbreakers living in a dark, gloomy, and corrupt urban environment. Some of the archetypal films of this period were The Maltese Falcon (1941), The Killers (1946), and The Asphalt Jungle (1950).
. . .
There are three fundamental features of film noir:
  • Fatalism. Most of the characters have pasts that they would like to forget and little hope for the future. In addition, the deck seems to be stacked against them, and the world is full of traps and unanticipated disasters. This leads to the narrative quest for an escape.  
  • Truth. The world is dark and obscure, and the truth is always elusive. At every turn, there is someone ready to doublecross you, and the police are as untrustworthy as the gangsters. This leads to the narrative quest to know what is true, a necessity in order to effect an escape. 
  • Loyalty. Because everyone, including the cops, are liars and noone can be trusted, there is a heavy demand to find someone who can be trusted – and then to remain loyal to that rare person. This leads to a professional code, the “honour among thieves”, which places life-threatening demands of loyalty on the trusted partners in the story. The required level of “professionalism” is almost inhuman, and when any human sentiment is manifested, it is a sure sign of weakness that leads to inevitable failure. It is only from the professional, trusted, loyal partner that one can know the truth that can lead to escape.
Films Noir

No comments: