Film Noir

A style or genre of cinematographic film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace. The term was originally applied (by a group of French critics) to American thriller or detective films made in the period 1944–54 and to the work of directors such as Orson Welles, Fritz Lang, and Billy Wilder.

The cinematography within film noir creates a dark and mysterious tone throughout. It depends mostly on the stereotypical Femme Fatale; dominant, relies mainly on appearance, man-eater!

Femme Fatale is a stock character of a mysterious and seductive woman whose charms ensnare her lovers, often leading them into compromising, dangerous, and deadly situations. She is an archetype of literature and art. The femme fatale is usually expressed as a phallic woman as she exudes dominance, which apparently is a masculine quality and because of her deceiving ways is un-feminine. which lets the men feel as though there masculinity is un-faltered.



Some believe film noir never really ended, but continued to evolve and post-1950s films in the noir tradition are seen as part of a continuity with classic noir. A majority however, regard noir films made outside the classic era to not be genuine film noirs. They regard true film noir as belonging to a specific time and place and subsequent films that evoke noir elements are referred to as “neo-noir.”

For example films such as ‘Reservoir Dogs’1992, ‘Se7en’1999, ‘Pulp Fiction’ 1994, and ‘Sin City 2005.

Lightning and Camera

  • There is an emphasis on expressionist lighting (use of lighting to convey and emotion or mood), disorientating camera work, juxtaposing elements, shadows, unusual camera angles usually diagonal, and excessive smoking a drinking.
  • Importance usually based on low-key lighting, windows, blinds and dark, gloomy, claustrophobic rooms.
  • Exterior scenes where usually urban settings, dark alleyways with low-key lighting and lampposts that give off lots of light
Typical Shots and Scenes within Film Noir




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