Re: RARA-AVIS: Film Noir Style, Noir Content

Date: 18 Feb 2003


Re your comment below:

> And while I agree with Jim that film noir once
> referred only to a visual
> style, I'd say its common usage has expanded
> well-beyond that, in much
> the same way that "pulp fiction" is no longer
> limited in most people's
> mind to the literal meaning of that term. Language
> evolves (and I'd say
> that hardboiled/noir, with its heavy use of
> vernacular helps fuel this).

If the term has expanded beyond what it's meant to define, then it means that people are commonly misunderstanding the term, not that "the languange has expanded."
> And in the neo-noir film movement, the word
> definitely refers to
> content, not style. While many present stories like
> those of Jim
> Thompson (in many cases direct adaptations), David
> Goodis, Jim Cain,
> etc, few recreate the mise-en-scene of Samuel
> Fuller, Fritz Lang or
> Robert Aldrich.

Which, along with the exterme self-consciousness of those films is precisely why few of them, I would argue NONE of them, ARE genuine film noirs.
> I asked just this question in a movie review of Wild
> Things in the
> latest issue of
> Film noir. Does "noir" refer to the darkness of the
> setting or the
> darkness of the human soul?

Darkness of the setting, or more correctly, darkness of the image.

> But can a film be noir if it's set in bright,
> sun-drenched Florida? . .

No. Not unless the film is black and white, and mostly, if not exclusively, takes place at night.

> Wherever there are people with large sums of money,
> there will be other
> people trying to take it away from them. And no
> matter how bright the
> sun, it still can't cast away all of the shadows
> within the darkness of
> the human soul.

True enough, but that hasn't anything to do with whether or not a film is a film NOIR. That's exclusively a function of the visual style.


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