Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Film Noir: Crime, German Expressionism & Femme Fatales

There was one Lit Talk session which was particularly interesting.

Mr Lim, our Philosophy teacher, presented on his favorite philosophy book while Ms Leuar presented on Film Noir, which captivated my attention completely. 

Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. Many of the prototypical stories and much of the attitude of classic noir derive from the hardboiled school of crime fiction that emerged in the United States during the Great Depression, which is another topic I'll be studying in Advanced History.

Nightlife is an aspect of city life that has always fascinated me. Quoting from my World Scholars' Cup Special Area resource in 2012, "It is fitting that electricity, the invention that gave rise to modern nightlife, also helped five rise to cinema, and to its depictions of night in city." That brings me to film noir, a genre which unfolds in dark city settings. As critic Roger Ebert put it, they are full of

"locations that reek of the night, of shadows, of alleys, of the back doors of fancy places, of apartment buildings with high turnover rate, of taxi drivers and bartenders who have seen it all."

Film noirs portrayed an urban landscape of ruthless individualism and stories of characters who lived in crowded places but led lonely lives.

Ms Leuar told us about the origins of film noir in German expressionist filmmakers such as Fritz Lang.

And that was when a picture of a sultry woman dressed in a sexy skin-tight outfit complete with a cigarette and stiletto came onto the screen in the Heritage Gallery-- the infamous and timeless icon of a femme fatale.

I have an fascinating thought that I'd like to share: doesn't film noir seem like the modern-day interpretation of the Gothic genre? Both have gory undertones with thrilling stories and similar motifs of darkness, loneliness and death (in certain cases). 

Since I'll be studying Gothic literature in Term 3 with Henry James' The Turn of the Screw, perhaps I can make more connections then. 

Here's an interesting article I found, I will put the link down in case I want to go back to it in the future:

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