Is there a definition of film noir? How many times we hear movie directors, writers or actors talking about the inspiration behind their work, in this case, the film noir cinema? Sometimes, we cannot pinpoint the real meaning of this cinematic term. We know the influence it has in the movie industry. The celebration of film festivals around the world honoring this type of cinema is proof of it. But, what it is? Well, literally, Film Noir means “black film or cinema” and it was attributed by the French for the detective and crime films created by Hollywood in the 1940’s.
The dark themes were in correspondence with the era. Events like the Great Depression and the World War II was the background of the Film Noir aesthetics. The main element of these films was the specific mood and style. It was a counterbalance of the musicals and comedies of this period. The paranoia, gloom and melancholy dominant in this era were always present as a reminder of the times. Directors as Orson Welles, John Huston, Billy Wilder and Fritz Lang made a statement with their work demonstrating the cataclysm post-war.
Although this was a significant element, the Film Noir cinema was often personified by a cynical male character (mainly a disappointed detective) and the fatalistic presence of the femme fatale. These types of woman always lead the downfall of the main character. Most of the time, she was the villain, impossible to resist. These two types of characters where always part of the dynamics of the Film Noir movies and never failed to impress with their actions.
At the late 1950’s there was a downfall for the Film Noir cinema. The optimism of this era made a halt to the gloominess and shadows of the war. The most recognize Film Noir movies are: “Citizen Kane”, “The Maltese Falcon,” and “Sunset Boulevard.” Then, a new wave of movies like “Chinatown,” “Body Heat” and “Blade Runner”contributed to the renaissance of this kind of cinema.