Film Noir

Film Noir was a term used to describe the visual style of some Hollywood dramas that was most prominent from the 1940’s to the 1950’s which gets some influence from German Expressionism. Film Noir literally translated means “black film” in French and this refers to the low key black and white visual style that dominates the genre. The use of low-key lighting makes subjects and scenes appear darker, more atmospheric and the use of silhouettes and shadows were very common.
And Example of Film Noir Lighting
And Example of Film Noir Lighting

Most film noir storylines involve a crime, usually murder, a male protagonist with dubious motivations and has obvious character flaws. Amnesia is fairly epidemic—"noir's version of the common cold", in the words of film historian Lee Server. A lot of film noir films are based in a rural setting with big cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Chicago being the location of many of the big films.

Film noirs commonly have very convoluted storylines which may take several viewings to fully comprehend. A frequent narrative device used by directors was the use of flashbacks. "Sorry, Wrong Number" had flashbacks within flashbacks which served as a method to extend the film as the actions on screen occurred in real time. Narration is another trademark of the film noir era which is used to structure the story and ease the viewer into the narrative's world. Depending on the film, this took the form of a first person narrator or third person narrator.

The Third Man, The Maltese Falcon and "Sunset Blvd." are some of the most famous film noir's but there were hundreds more that were released from 1940 onwards.


List of the best "film noir" films
Film noir