"Grimly Existential" as Opposed to "Noir" (Was: Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Noir Comic Bo

From: jacquesdebierue (jacquesdebierue@yahoo.com)
Date: 10 Nov 2008

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    --- In rara-avis-l@yahoogroups.com, "Brian Thornton"
    <bthorntonwriter@...> wrote:

    > They usually aren't. You yourself mentioned that the criminality
    > was largely secondary though. Correct? Or did I read that wrong?
    > As I understand it, a crime has to be a large element of the plot in
    > for it to be either "hard-boiled" or "noir." Otherwise it's just
    > existential." You know, like a bad French film.

    It depends... on how you define noir. If it's a style, a story involving no criminality and no violence can be noir. Some sort of doom is often enough. I would posit that McCarthy's masterpiece, _The Road_, is noir. There is no criminality at all in it. And Kafka's nightmares do not involve criminality (at least, not in the usual sense). The same is true of Patricia Highsmith's cold dish _Edith's Diary_. It is true that a majority of books and movies that are considered noir do involve crimes, but there are plenty of examples that do not. Some doom, or a dark psychological situation,or suspicions of foul play that turn out to be unfounded, can suffice to make a work stylistically noir.

    > As for reviewers calling something "noir" and comparing it to the
    work of
    > authors such as Goodis and Thompson, well, at least they didn't call
    it a
    > "taut, noirish thriller," or "an action-packed thrill-ride with noir
    > elements," and compare it to the work of Hammett and Chandler (two VERY
    > different writers, as were Goodis and Thompson), so I suppose that's
    > something.

    It's a generic term that cannot give a clear idea of what's involved. The late Richard Condon gave The Manchurian Candidate (described as a political thriller) a definitely noir treatment, for example. The original movie is noir, too, at least in my opinion.



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