Key Features of Noir Ellen Kenrick
CINEMATOGRAPHY • Low camera angle shows inferior characters (usually the femme fatale). • Camera follows the eye line of characters (i.e. detective looking at femme fatale because of their attraction to her). • Wide-angle deep focus shots • High angle long shots • Choker close-ups • Absence of establishing shots
MISE-EN-SCENE • Cigarettes • Rainy Streets • Black • Shadows (Angle of lighting) • Lipstick • Jewels • Guns • Torch • Money • Low-key black-and-white lighting
EDITING • One very well known film noir editing technique is ‘flashbacks’ which are often presented by the main character (usually the detective) explaining what has happened. • Jarring editing from close up to long shot.
SOUND • Macabre non-diegetic music (usually representing 1940s - 1950s). • Flirtatious language/narrative from the femme fatale to demonstrate her seductive and powerful nature over men. • Amplified diegetic sound, often heard from the gun, punches/hits, etc. • Diegetic voice overs are often found in film noirs such as in ‘Double Indemnity’ where Walter Neff talks about Mrs Dietrichson’s ankle bracelet.
THEMES • Mournful • Tragedy • Deception/Lies • Love • Crime • Corruption • Sexual obsession • Money • Greed • Power
CHARACTERISATION • Femme Fatale (acts like heroin but is a sinner) • Hero/detective (troubled by femme fatale). • Victim (usually disliked or victimised by the femme fatale, who uses the detective to help her). • Women in Noir • The redeemer offers the male protagonist the potential at domesticity or normality. • The destroyer places the male protagonist in a deadly situation, often leading to his violent death.
NARRATIVE • Film noir is often set out in a first person narrative where one character tells the story, and this links in really well with the flash backs and voice overs. • A man meets a woman who persuades him to commit a crime through sexual manipulation. The crime is plotted and committed. As a consequence the man and the woman are often killed or imprisoned. • A dame with a past and a hero with no future.