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Issues Of Character: Noir And Neo Noir          Noir And Neo Noir

2312 words - 9 pages

Issues of Character: Noir and Neo-noir Noir and neo-noir films bring to audiences everywhere a sense of mystery, gloom, and unsettlement. Films such as The Big Sleep, Pulp Fiction, and specially The Usual Suspects are perfect examples of the how noir and neo-noir characters bring forth a disturbing part of the plot for their viewers. Film noir is actually a French term, which translated means "black film." The term itself was not created until after the so called "golden age" of noir, roughly 1941 - 1959. This genre of film is defined as ?A movie characterized by low-key lighting, a bleak urban setting, and corrupt, cynical characters.?(Dictionary.com) Noir characters are indeed corrupt and cynical, often unsettling in the stomachs of their viewers. The birth of this genre in film may have been attributed to American feelings and reactions to World War II. WWII introduced into American homes more blood, gore, and fatal realism than ever before in television and big-screen history; leading to a desensitization of the public and also topics previously off limits in film and television were now eagerly sought after by audiences throughout the country. Neo-noir takes the basic elements of its predecessor but with modern film techniques, color, and wide screen formats. The basic element of unbalance and unrest within its characters are the same with both noir and neo-noir genres. A good example of the types of things one would see in a noir film is ?[the] Sets are often in wet and dark streets, dimly lit apartments and hotel rooms. Characters consist of anti-heroic, and cynical hard-boiled detectives or private eyes, who encountered violent crimes and corruption. A beautiful but dangerous femme fatale offers love and sexuality, but manipulates the detective and brings deception and death. These critics also recognize the low-key lighting style in film noir.?(FSUweek8) The Big Sleep, directed by Howard Hawks, shows its audience how dark and ?Robinsonian? its characters can be in their world. At first, the characters give the impression of being very simple like the young daughter of the old, withered General Sternwood, Carmen Sternwood. This film portrays the dark side of its characters? personalities. In it, we see ?giggling killers and gruesome butlers pass through without even the courtesy of a name. A sideshow of criminality wanders in and out of The Big Sleep like so many underworld supernumeraries, crowding the film not so much with "characters," but with tiny, finely-etched, one-note portrayals of deceit and self-interest.?(Images) Characters in this film are a lot less reliable and surely less predictable than the ones we would see in other genres of film. Phillip Marlowe, played by Humphrey Bogart, plays a private detective hired by the General to settle some debts his youngest daughter had with ?Geiger, the fastidiously sleazy bookstore proprietor.?(Images) A secondary goal for the General is to have Marlowe find his missing friend and...

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