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Film Noir Paul Schrader, ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep.

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Presentation on theme: "Film Noir Paul Schrader, ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep."— Presentation transcript:

1 Film Noir Paul Schrader, ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep

2 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ New mood – cynicism, pessimism and darkenss – penetrated into the American cinema. Hollywood film grew darker, charcters more corrupt and themes more fatalistic and the tone more hopeless. First noticed by French film critics and continued to be identified – Noir film Reflected the mood of the politics and the society in the 1940s.

3 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ ‘The Forties may be to the Seventies what the Thirties were to the Sixties.’ The end of WWII and the Vietnamese War. Film noir is not a genre. It is not defined by conventions of setting and conflict. It is defined by tone and mood. It is period specific – movies of the forties and early fifties portraying ‘the world of dark, slick city streets, crime and corruption.’

4 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ From The Maltese Falcon (1941) to A Touch of Evil (1958) Most Hollywood films made between 1941 and 1953 contain some noir elements.

5 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Exactly because noir is not a genre, no matter how many noir elements are accumulated, they do not make a genre. Four conditions that brought about film noir WAR AND POSTWAR DISILLUSIONMENT Antagonism and viciousness to the American society. POSTWAR REALISM Greater realism of location shooting than elaborate sets of melodrama became more common.

6 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ THE GERMAN INFLUENCE ‘Paint it Black’ Germanization of Hollywood by German expats Expressionist films of the 20s and 30s. Cinematographer John Alton Realism and expressionism

7 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ THE HARD-BOILED TRADITION Ernest Hemingway, Raymond Chandler, James M. Cain and Dashiell Hammett created ‘hard-boiled’ tough anti-heroes.

8 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ STYLISTICS ‘Most of scenes are lit for night.’ Oblique and vertical lines are emphasized – as in German Expressionist film


10 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ ‘The actors and setting are often given equal lighting emphasis.’ Composition is more important than action. Physical action is subordinated to frame composition.

11 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Attachment to water. Rainfall, noir streets wetted with fresh rain. Docks and piers are preferred settings. Romantic narration: Robert Mitchum narrates his past in Out of the Past Complex chronological order

12 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ THEMES Raymong Durgnat’s 11 thematic categories Overriding noir theme, which Durgnat misses – a passion for the past and present and a fear of the future. Three phases of film noir The war-time period 1941-46 with Double Indemnity as a bridge to the postwar period. The phase of the private eye and the lone wolf. More talk than action.

13 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ The postwar realist period: 1945 – 1949. The problems fo crime in the streets, political corruption and police routine. Heroes less romantic. The period of psychotic action and suicidal impulse: 1949-53. Mentally tormented and neurotic protagonists and killers. Cream of the film noir getting down to ‘the root causes of the period: the loss of public honor, heroic conventions, personal integrity, and … pyschic stability.’

14 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ The end of film noir in the 50s with A Touch of Evil as the epitaph. The rise of McCarthy and Eisenhower – few social criticism and more bourgeois life style. The rise of television undercut the German vision Colour photography – the final blow.

15 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Creative noir period – Film noir helped bring out the best in everyone. Film directors made their best in film noir, started their career in film noir, and moved from other film to make film noir. Cinematographers were allowed to be highly mannered. Actors were sheltered by cinematographers.

16 ‘Notes on Film Noir’ Critical neglect of film noir in USA Westerns are more American than noir. Film noir is inferior ‘B’ film Auteur theory tries to find the uniqueness of a director not similarity to other directors.

17 Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946) Generally considered as a film noir classic. ‘The Big Sleep is the best scripted, best directed, best acted, and least comprehensible film noir ever made.’ Tim Robey, a film critic for Daily Telegraph ‘… it is one of the great film noirs, a black-and- white symphony’ Roger Ebert, a film critic for Chicago Sun Times

18 Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946) No flashbacks or voice-over narration found in Double Indemnity. No angst-ridden hero. The German influence is absent. No nightmare or no aminous shadows Little expressionistic low-key lighting or distorted images. Instead The Big Sleep is heavy with (witty) dialogue.

19 Howard Hawks’s The Big Sleep (1946) No defeated anti-hero, but instead Marlow as a strong, smart and capable private eye. No major femme fatale BUT Live through unspeakable experiences, Bogart’s Marlow goes through transformation in character. More nervous and without confidence.

20 since the whole idea of film noir was to live through unspeakable experiences and keep your cool, this was the right screenplay for this time in his life.

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