This book traces the development of what we know as film noir from the proto-noir elements of Feuillade's silent French crime series and German Expressionism to the genre's mid-twentieth-century popularisation and influence on contemporary global media.
By employing experimental lighting effects, oblique camera angles, distorted compositions and shifting points-of-view, film noir's style both creates and comments upon a morally adumbrated world, where the alienating effects of the uncanny, the fetishistic and the surreal dominate. What drew original audiences to film noir is an immediate recognition of this modern social and psychological reality.
Much of the appeal of film noir concerns its commentary on social anxieties, its cynical view of political and capitalist corruption, and its all-too-brutal depictions of American modernity. This book examines the changing, often volatile shifts in representations of masculinity and femininity, as well as the genre's complex relationship with Afro-American culture, observable through noir's musical and sonic experiments.
Concluding with extensive bibliographies, filmographies, recommended noir film viewing and a reflective chapter by Alain Silver and James Ursini on their own influential studies and collections on film noir criticism, this book offers students and scholars of Film Studies a scholarly, cultural and aesthetic history of the genre.
Edinburgh University Press
Traditions in American Cinema