The aesthetic of film noir was hugely influenced by German Expressionism of the 1910s and 1920s. Many of the major contributors to film noir were immigrants from Europe, who had been directly involved in the Expressionism movement who were fleeing Nazi Germany. Another underlying influence and definitive antecedent was 1930s French poetic realism and it’s romantic, fatalistic attitude and celebration of doomed heroes.
Italian neo-realism also contributed to film noir’s evolution with it’s focus on a quasi-documentary style. The pulp American literature of crime thrillers and detective stories was another overriding influence. The burgeoning emancipation of women played a part in noir’s formation with female characters toying with their male counterparts and helping in their downfall. These characters realise and understand that their eroticism empowers them to manipulate men with ease.
Major examples include Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity (1944), Rita Hayworth in Gilda (1946), Lana Turner in The Postman Always Rings Twice (1946), Ava Gardner in The Killers (1946) and Jane Greer in Out of the Past (1947). Most of the film noirs of the classic period were low budget productions that did not feature major stars and so were relatively free from big budget constraints and studio interference. Film noir turned conventional Hollywood on it’s head, producing sophisticated often bleak pieces of work that often factored cynical, minimalist, absurdist or realist themes shot with strikingly expressionist lighting and though-provoking camera angles. The noir style gradually began to influence the mainstream and indeed, film noir continues to be made, re-made, satirised and lauded right to the present day.
Russell Shortt is a travel consultant with Exploring Ireland, the leading specialists in customised, private escorted tours, escorted coach tours and independent self drive tours of Ireland. Article source Russell Shortt, http://www.exploringireland.net – http://www.visitscotlandtours.com