In the Film Noir genre, much is debated about what makes a film a ‘Noir’ film. But as Filmsite.org states, in a way that many mans of the genre would not disagree: ‘The primary moods of classic Film Noir were melancholy, alienation, bleakness, disillusionment, disenchantment, pessimism, ambiguity, moral corruption, evil, guilt, desperation and paranoia’. The Maltese Falcon (1941), the big sleep (1946), and sunset boulevard (1950) are all classics of the genre, and therefore can be drawn on to gain the essence of a Film Noir.
The easiest to spot and defining feature of Film Noir would be the dark, cold black and white cinematography, and the use of shadows to great effect. The dialogue of the films reflect the mood of the black and white; gloomy, foreboding, anxiety, menace, during the viewing of any of these films you can never shake the feeling that something will go wrong. The ‘Femme Fatale’ was also a crucial part to any great Film Noir, the Femme Fatale would differ from all the other women in the film who are portrayed as dutiful, reliable, trustworthy and loving, and would be a mysterious, irresponsible, double-crossing, manipulative, beauty to behold. The genre and mood of all the films will never escape its naming by Nino Frank in 1946 as literally, a black film, something dark, disturbing and lonesome.
Eugéne Atget would have to be one of my all time favorite photographers, and as a photographer his work is easily defined and cataloged as he did most of that himself.
His work is the very essence of Paris, he manages to capture the heart of soul of a city in a way that to me, no other photography before or since has managed to replicate. He spent many years travelling around Paris, ignoring L’arc De Triomphe, and the Eiffel tower, occasionally in his work they may be seen in the background but the main subject of the photo would be a street vendor or an interesting row of workman’s boots. He took what made Paris, Paris: the side streets, the crumbling building of old, the decrepit old merry go round, and filed them away into his collection. His photos all speak of him as much as they do Paris. Taken on an out of date camera even in 1910, they spoke of an old collector, an appraising eye, open to the beauty of anything and everything his city had open to him.
Edward hopper, introduced to me by my photography lecturer, is an artist that greatly captured my eye, and my attention, which i have not experienced before with many artists. His work, to me, reflects Film Noir in many ways, the three pieces i have chosen to display all have a dark, cold feel to them. An essence of desperation, containment and loneliness. The cold nature of these photographs i believe come from their settings, a Café at night, a near to empty train carriage, and a small, private bedroom. They are all spaces that could easily be portrayed as happy places, a drink with friends, a journey to somewhere new and exciting or the room that you and your significant other share, but they aren’t. They are to me, what Film Noir would be if it was converted from film to paint.
References: Filmsite.org, azcentral.com, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nino_Frank