RARA-AVIS: Re: Everything's Noir?

From: JIM DOHERTY ( jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 21 May 2007


Re your comments below:

"Film and literature are two different things with their own sets of terminology. Of course they are independant of one another. Meanings bleed from one to the other but then take off on their own path, driven by discussion. That has plainly happened with 'noir.'"

Film and prose may be two different things, but they both are story-telling mediums, and the genre terms used to describe the stories they tell are, fundamentally, synonomous. I've already given some examples strictly within the mystery genre, but let's stretch a bit.

Does "western" mean something different in film than it does in prose? Are we wrong to describe John Cunningham's short story, "The Tin Star," or Jack Schaeffer's novel, SHANE, as westerns but correct when we use the term to describe their film adaptations, HIGH NOON and SHANE?

How about science fiction? Does that mean something different in prose than in film? Is it right to call Frank Herbert's DUNE a science fiction novel, but not use that term for the film version?

How about fantasy? Is J.R.R. TOlkien's Ring Trilogy not fantasy, though the films are. Or is it the other way around? Are the novels fantasy, but not the films?

Yet somehow, "noir," in some elusive way none of you seem able to describe, has evolved when it describes a story told in prose, but not when it describes a story told in film, this despit the fact that the only reason the term is applied to films is because of those films' having the same elements, and very often being directly adapted from, the novels and short stories originally described as noir.

There are exceptions, of course. Some genres just don't exist outside of film, or at least outside of dramatic mediums. A "musical" novel, for example, is kind of hard to imagine, because that's a form that exists only on stage or screen. The point is, though, NOT that "musical" means one thing when applied to prose fiction and another when applied to film (or stage). It's that "musical" doesn't even exist, as a genre, in prose.

"I don't think it can be credibly denied that 'noir' has connotations beyond 'dark and sinister' when applied to books."

I've been denying, and I flatter myself that I've been denying it pretty credibly, for quite some time now.


____________________________________________________________________________________Pinpoint customers who are looking for what you sell. http://searchmarketing.yahoo.com/

This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 21 May 2007 EDT