Hello my reader. And welcome to my blog. Today I am here to talk about something that I seem to have grown more and more of an admiration to. That being a particular genre of film called film noir. For those of you who don't know, film noir is a genre that often centers itself around grit, sin and cynicism. This sort of genre really was prominient in the black and white era as they could properly integrate the concepts with the quality of the film of the time. Most film noirs centered around fictional crimes that would develop and people trying to solve the mystery that came up. For the most part, film noir became defined by that sort of formula, despite it being an incredibly broad term. Nowadays, the sort of crime-based film noir becomes parodied in shows, combined with another genre that eventually engulfs the film noir or becomes neo-noir that takes different aspects whilst combining the basics of film noir. Except the only difference is that they don't film in black and white. Except for Sin City.
I began to notice film noir when I began to admire jazz/blues. As it turns out, blues and jazz were heavily linked to this genre. And once you look at the genre, your mind sort of makes the connection. Instruments are usually isolated in film noir scores to further express the emotion that is present in the scene, which becomes prominient in blues. Each instrument that singled out can mean a different emotion in general. Trumpets usually express depression that usually sinks to rock-bottom, saxophones show lustful desires, clarinets signal danger and the piano portrays careful pondering. Jazz on the other hand plays towards a false happiness that only comes to prevent the over-accumulation of the troubles that brew up in the worlds that the film noir genre creates. This style of music simply merged well with this type of film, whilst managing to maintain the atmosphere without the presence of the film itself. Simply put, the music could tell a film noir story to you if you listened to it by itself. By doing that, the music becomes spectacular when seperated and the film benefits by strengthening the atmosphere with the score.
Since I enjoyed the sort of music the genre was mostly known for, I tried to look deeper into the genre itself and encountered various ideas that were interesting to look at. There were a lot of themes, character types, situations and settings that caught my eye, which furthered my interest in the genre. But out of all the things that the genres were known for, two of them stuck out to me the most. Those two being the hard boiled P.I and the femme fatale.
First and foremost, we must talk about the heart of the film noir. That being the hard boiled P.I. Without this character, the film noir wouldn't be so prominent as it was. The hard boiled P.I is basically a male character who's seen enough to know what goes on in the corrupted places that he encounters. The character wears a fedora, trenchcoat and five o' clock shadow to address the public as the one that gets things done for the name of justice. He usually smokes because it shows that he's cool and down to business. You'll often see him drinking, so that he can clear his mind of the terror and move forward to clean the dirt off the streets. The last thing to note is that he never wants to speak about the past, as he constantly represses some of the worst chapters in his life.
While it seems as though most P.Is don't avoid hiding a smile, there actually can be a range of emotions that the P.I can express. Sometimes the P.I can be optimistic but use the grit as way to threaten criminals around him. Other times the P.I finds that his bitterness stems from what happened in the past and not what occurs in the present. In some occasions, the addition of a certain character can influence the trajectory of emotions that this trope-heavy character feels. Hell, even their occupation isn't always a P.I (but it's usually something close). It manages to be quite diverse despite it's limits. The same can be said about the other outstanding character, the femme fatale.
Unlike the P.I, femme fatales aren't the driving force of a film noir all the time. They usually serve as something that the P.I may eventually have to encounter. The femme fatale is a female character that usually finds a way to lure men to aid her only to have them be entangled in something that is near-impossible to escape. For the most part, the femme fatale feeds into the sexual desire that men simply have by nature. By wearing scantily clad clothing and speaking in a soothing, alluring voice, she can convince anyone to do anything she wants. Yet in some instances, the femme fatale can be attracted to a character and only trap them in danger because she is prone to misfortune. Usually, the variety with the femme fatale comes within motive as there's really only two ways to convince men to do what they want to do.
Both of these characters properly enforce the main theme of film noir, which is sin. Film noir bases itself around wrath, lust, vanity and greed that populates the gritty streets that the characters walk around. Lies are constantly spread around the environment, causing a sense of uncertainty. The main characters in a film noir have to be incredibly cautious of who they confront. Usually they can't trust anyone who comes up to them right on the spot and they can't accuse them of a lie with no proof, so they resort to doubt. Sometimes, the characters can't even trust themselves because of past sins they've committed. Sin becomes something that they have to fight constantly. If they can't fight it and find themselves succumbing to something immoral, they must attempt to hide it as much as possible by means of alcohol or cheap prostitutes. No matter how hard they separate their sin from what they want to do right, they end up becoming the sin to others. Once they've been pointed out for something they've tried to hide for so long, they have to face the consequences and try to move on from it. That or the shattered state that comes from what they've done remains as it's concealed by a tougher, fiercer and more dedicated shell that could crack at any second.
Film noir just builds up a lot of emotion that could only come from entering in a place filled with darkness. Whatever plot a film noir movie has created and whatever setting the movie takes place in, the way you look at that world will never change. The citizens will be criminals either in disguise or in plain sight. The streets will be covered with bullet holes, blood stains, shattered glass and grime. The people who uphold the law will either live as a corrupted cop with no true sense of what is moral in society or die as martyrs that did their part to better the crooked world they once lived in. Whether it's shot in black in white or in color, the flickering street lights will always have a man hanging beside it, puffing smoke into the cold air.
Thanks for reading my blog.