Tuesday, February 24, 2009

An Air of Cool in a Dark Place

With the many years between current films and the films of WWII, there is no surprise that the film noir movies of the past have had a direct impact on the movies of today, and why wouldn't they. Film noirs are dark, have seedy characters and sexual tension, and have a fem fatal that is sometimes to die for. Now, if we look just at the quality of being dark, then that is not really going to help find the film noirs. There are many films that use a dark setting and dynamic shadows to show an eerie sense. I feel that the main part of the film noir is not just the darkness, but the fact that almost every character has something to hide, something dirty, something that could be possibly cool.

If we focused on the darkness many films could be seen as film noir, Sweeney Todd, Fallen, anything that Tim Burton does. But this is why I see the defining point of film noir is the character action. When almost every character in a movie has a dark character, has something to hide, or is just plain bad then the movie becomes a film noir. Now when I think of movies with characters that have those traits I immediately think of Sin City. Sure, the movie is dark and shadows were blatantly made to look dramatic, but the characters just made me feel dirty when I saw the movie for the first time. It is about a corrupt city where one man is looking to save a girl from "The Yellow Bastard". The feeling that everyone is just a bad guy goes throughout that movie. After thinking of this movie, I began to think that many writers and artist of graphic novels have film noir qualities. This then goes over to film with films just like Sin City or Batman Begins. The graphic novels are black and dark, and this leads over the the big screen when they get made into movies, as so many of them do.

I was thinking of a great movie where the characters have something to hide and I thought of one of my favorite movies of all time, Who Framed Roger Rabbit. This movie has everything that a classic film noir has, dirty characters, dark settings, a detective that hates cartoons and just wants to find out the truth, a fem fatal, and a mimic of Keyes in Baby Herman. It has everything to make a noir a noir, and it did it in a very original way.

I stand behind my original thought that the characters that are in film noirs are not cool by them selves, but the movies in a whole are very cool.


  1. I almost used Who Framed Roger Rabbit? for my post, friend! Great minds think alike.

  2. "characters that are in film noirs are not cool by them selves, but the movies in a whole are very cool"

    I like this statement, it really sums up the film noir genre. Usually I focus on people when thinking about coolness, but I suppose a concept like film noir itself could be cool too.

  3. Both Sin City and Who Framed Roger Rabbit are both almost parodies of the genre. Can we even take film noir seriously any more?