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The Film Noir In Double Indemnity

795 words - 4 pages

Film Noir was a movement born from the disillusionment of post-war Americans. The term was coined by French critics who, after not having had access to American films since before World War II, were astonished by the “darkness” of post-war Hollywood cinema. Film noir did not provide the escape previous Hollywood films offered during the Great Depression, but instead confronted the audience with its characteristic anxiety-inducing style. The settings of these films were oppressively grim, where light came into rooms only through the slants of blinds over windows, or not at all, and shadows hovered over the faces of villains and heroes alike. The characters of film noir were predictable—the ...view middle of the document...

The music is ominous, adding to the atmosphere of imminent scandal. Thus the audience first sees Neff, the silhouette of a man with no identity. Indicative of film noir, this mixture of stylistic elements, before the narrative of the film even begins, elicit a certain response in viewers.
The story begins on a dark and stormy night, as all stories of deceit and depravity should. The world of Double Indemnity is like that one of eternal night, where light, like truth, is rarely seen. The film begins with Neff entering an office shrouded in darkness. The light seeping in through the slanted blinds is barely enough to see by, so that the first time the audience sees Neff’s face is when he turns the desk light on and begins his confession. The setting and blocking purposefully add to the feeling of containment, isolation, and deception. Later, as Phyllis waits in the darkness, the gun hidden under her seat, Neff closes the windows and curtains, relating his plan to let Zachetti take the fall beside her. The room holds out light like a boat in water. This kind of aberrant behavior is meant to take place behind closed doors and under the cover of darkness, yet the pair enact their devious schemes in full view of the audience, who is trapped in the room with them.
The contention between these two character-types is...

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