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  • Arya Kastwar

Idea #78 - Understanding Film Noir

Today we watched Understanding Film Noir by Jeffrey Stillwell, and learned a little more about the canonical cinematography and plot this genre follows.

Having been established in the day and age of the Great Depression post World War II, Film Noir became an entire genre in itself between the 1930s and 1950s, with resonating elements like cynical heroes, stark lighting effects, dark flashbacks, intricate plotlines laced in lawlessness, and underlying human philosophy.

Film Noir is, essentially, chic Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that follow the themes of pessimism, fatalism, and cynicism. This video essay attempts to define the elusive genre, while also tracing back to its origins - the Great Depression, pugnacious detective fiction, German expressionist cinema, and pulp fiction.

Jeffrey Stillwell also contextualises sociologically and psychologically his analysis, rationalising and giving it deeper meaning. This helps us understand and appreciate the intricacies of the genre better.

Our personal favourites are Night and the City, The Third Man, and Notorious.

Written By: Arya Kastwar

Curated By: Hetvi Kamdar


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