Film noir


The black film is a kind of film which is characterized by having a number of elements such as cynics heroes , effects of raw lighting , frequent use of flashbacks , intricate patterns and existential philosophy underlying. The genre was most prevalent in American crime dramas during the post- WWII era . French critics coined the term black cinema referring to the lighting of low profile that was used to enhance these dramas such stylisticAlthough the term did not become common in international critical circles until the publication of the book Panorama du film noir americain (1955) by Raymond Borde and Étienne Chaumeton.


What is film noir?

Film noir is an artistic communication medium that is responsible for narrating a series of events that are related to gangsters and detectives who try to solve crimes that have been previously failed .

  • Definition
  • Characteristics of film noir
  • History
  • Film noir today
  • Film noir by country
  • Sample Movies


The term black in film and literature has evolved over time increasingly, the organized crime , the sexual mores , the democratization of the culture of masses have come to influence gradually the term. Film noir is a way of expressing violence , order and disorder , justice , crimes and death as a consequence of the different activities of man.


Characteristics of film noir

Among the main characteristics that we can observe in film noir, we mention the following:

  • It has a combination of lights and shadows inspired by 20th century German Expressionism .
  • They try to promote depth and drama in stories through suspense and actions that not everyone would be willing to take.
  • Most of the characters are criminals .
  • It has been considered the quintessential American genre .
  • A very common feature of film noir is that all of its characters are always smoking .
  • The women working in the black cinema are always ready to love or to kill .
  • They are films that make the viewer believe that there will never be a happy ending.
  • Women generally wear low necklines , hats , mascara , lipstick , headdresses , high heels , and red dresses .
  • Men always wear wide -brimmed hats , full suits , ties , cars with running boards, and live in shabby residential hotels .
  • They were movies shot in black and white .


It was in France during the postwar years that the term was used to describe a certain set of Hollywood movies that were saturated with a darkness and cynicism that had not been seen before. The first element was the Second World War and the disillusionment of the postwar period . Many of the films during the 1930s and early 1940s were propaganda films that were designed to brighten up the bleak outlook for people during the hard times of the Depression and WWII.World. It began in the early 1940s , when film noir began to appear. Movies from the 1940s reflected the disillusionment felt in the country, especially when soldiers returned home and women lost their jobs at the end of the war.

The second element was given for the creation of the black cinema was the realism of war . Americans wanted authenticity that was lacking in earlier upper-class melodramas . They were looking for a harsh view of society from the perspective of ordinary people on the streets. They wanted to see actors in real places. The history of film noir was also influenced by the German authority . During the 1930s, especially after the rise of Nazism , many Germans and Eastern Europeans immigrated to the United States.and they helped influence the American film industry . His main influence on film noir is with aesthetics. They brought expressionistic lighting , which used artificial studio lighting to create shadows , lines oblique and vertical , and patterns of light irregular.

Film noir today

At present, film noir is closely linked to the realities that exist in countries, mainly in the United States . German Expressionism continues to be used , although the number of films made in this genre is in decline . It is used to reflect contexts and societies full of fear and uncertainty , and sometimes they refer to wars where the United States is always victorious.

Film noir by country

United States

In this country, film noir is perceived as an influence of psychoanalytic culture and the impulses that criminal behavior entails . Morality takes a back seat and sexuality is given more importance . On some occasions, criminal conflicts are not police but medical where a therapist manages to solve criminal behaviors that are born from sick minds .


In France, film noir is based on the making of films with police themes , where drama and tragedy go hand in hand. It also deals with issues related to despair in the sentimental field, and to criticize and deepen a series of emphatically geometric compositions .


It appeared in the 1940s and early 1950s while the country was already moving towards modernity . In this genre, the night is the main characteristic along with the corruption of morals and crimes of the city. It was a genre imported from the United States that is characterized by stories related to crimes within a corrupt society , where the line that separates the good and the bad is very small.


In this country, black cinema was a bit restricted by Franco’s censorship and manners, but little by little the country also made its productions. The use of the fatal woman was allowed but as long as foreign artists were used to give the perfect image of the Spanish woman.

Sample Movies

Some examples of film noir films are as follows:

  • The unknown of the third floor of Boris Ingster
  • The Maltese Falcon by John Huston
  • The Haunting of Shanghai by Josef Von Sternberg
  • Hired to Kill by Frank Tuttle
  • The woman in Fritz Lang’s painting
  • The torture of a mother by Michael Curtiz
  • Treacherous and Mortal by Jacques Tourneur

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