RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir etc

From: Charlie Williams ( cs_will@hotmail.com)
Date: 14 Feb 2003

Marianne wrote:
"I believe that this goes without saying. Noir seems to me to be neither character- nor plot-dependent, but a matter of the setting. It's the shadow moving beyond the campfire light, the darkness down the back alley, in the unlit doorway (Third Man, right?), between the street lights, OR in the woods. Or for that matter in the unconscious mind, the dark mind of the Other, the killer.... Death's home, really or symbolically."

[I always try to resist getting dragged into these labelling debates, but sod it...] I believe noir IS dependent on plot. For me, a noir novel is one where it is demonstrated that you're going to get knocked back no matter how hard you try or how good your underlying intentions are. By good intentions I mean - typically - yielding to romantic urges. I keep coming back to The Postman Always... when thinking about this. Frank and Cora take desperate measures because they are yielding to their urges. What is more human than yielding to urges? Noir says life is grey and mundane if you don't (ie: you're screwed), so you might as well give in to them (ie: you're screwed).

Regarding shadows and darkness and unlit doorways, I've always been dubious about this because it shares so much with gothic horror. Since you take movies as your example here, have you seen The Crow? Shadows and darkness galore, night all the time, and a lot of bad feeling. But to me it's not noir. It ends with redemption and a righting of wrongs. To me, that's anti-noir. If it's noir it's got to be noir all the way through. Not mostly noir but with some blanc at the end.

"I will stop before I freak myself out on this rainy morning in London!"

Ah, but it's sunny today, isn't it. Too sunny. Give me rain and murk. (But give us back the Central Line.)

Charlie Williams

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