RARA-AVIS: Re: Super Heroes, Comics, and Noir

From: JIM DOHERTY (jimdohertyjr@yahoo.com)
Date: 25 Jul 2008

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    Re your question below:

    "So Serie Noire books Gallimard published after 1964 aren't noir?"

    I hope you realized that my tongue was at least partly in my cheek, when I said that being in color and being made after 1964 automatically disqualified THE DARK KNIGHT.

    That said, I do recognize a real difference between what strikes me as "real" film noir, B&W crime films made roughly from the '40's through the early '60's that shared certain visual elements, and the more self-conscious "neo-noirs" that started to appear in the '80's and '90's.

    Once the "noir cycle" in film had ended, there were no real film noirs made, though plenty (MADIGAN, HARPER, BULLITT, DIRTY HARRY, etc.) might have been noir had they used the same kind of visual elements.

    In the '70's, the term "film noir" starts to work its way into the public consciousness, and by the '80's, with new techniques making it possible to imbue even color films with the kind of dark, sinister atmoshperics that marked the camera work of cinematographers like John Alton, some filmmakers set out deliberately to make film noirs (something that none of the filmmakers during the classic noir cycle ever set out to do). Though I admire many of these films, they have always struck me as being a little too self-conscious in their efforts to reproduce the effects of the earlier films that were called noir mostly in retrospect.

    By contrast, there was no comparable interruption in the production of noir fiction in prose, and, until fairly recently, no self-conscious attempts to deliberately write noir novels or short stories.



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