Analyse The Noir Mediascape By Essay Example
Analyse The Noir Mediascape By Essay Example

Analyse The Noir Mediascape By Essay Example

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  • Pages: 6 (1597 words)
  • Published: December 8, 2017
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Since its initial rise in popularity in the 1940's, the notion of the "noir mediascape" has been established due to the characteristics attributed to noir infiltrating into other forms of the media.

Characteristics such as noir iconography, themes, narratives and character representations have been adopted by various media ventures, and these characteristics will be explored and analysed in the following essay.This essay will also discuss the issue of whether the "neo-noir" films have in fact betrayed or elaborated the original style of noir films by investigating two key distinctions etween that of neo-noir films and the original classic noir films. The distinctions of the change in cinematography and the use of implicit sex and violence in neo-noir films will both be examined with references to Roman Polanski's Chinatown, Jerry Goldsmith's


Basic Instinct and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver. The iconography conveyed in film noirs are quite easily recognised through its unique visual style.The intricate use of dull colours, primarily black and white, and the use of shadows to contrast light and dark and to suggest the notion of 'where there is ood, there is evil' are employed in most if not all classical noir films of the "Golden Era". The settings are always of an urbanized dystopia, filled with neon lights and human pollution, all of which help convey the "textured rendings of urban life" (Christopher 1997: 7).

These attributes are easily recognised as relating or being derived from the classical noir genre by the normal filmgoer, and thus can be said to have some iconic value.The use of dull colours, dark tones and moody features have also been the basis behind the works of artists

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such as Arson Roje and Guy Debord hom have both created works that were inspired by the unique noir style (Naremore 1998: 256). Similarly, an aftershave advertisement appropriately entitled "Noir" which was launched in the early 1980's, along with many other visual advertisements particularly aimed at men, have distinctly incorporated the use of these noir like features such as dark shadows and melancholy colours to promote their products.Hence the point can be made that the iconography of film noir's visual style has been experimented by the contemporary arts and implemented as a marketing ploy to ppeal as a cult symbol in pop culture, thus showing its influence over different aspects other than that of film itself. The various themes with which the classical 'old school' film noirs have embodied were also shared in some of the more popular radio programs in the 1940's and 50's.Themes such as seduction, forbidden love, greed, deceit, fear and cynicism, all of which were conceived in classic noir films such as Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, Howard Hawks' The Big Sleep and Billy Wilder's Double Indemnity, were also highly prominent in the field of radio entertainment.

Programs such as Nero Wolfe by Rex Stout, Boston Blackie by Richard Kollmar and Philip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler delved mainly into the realms of crime investigation whereby the main protagonist would have to endure and experience the aforementioned themes.One of the most common attributes that 'old school' noirs and 'new school' or 'neo' noirs have is that they always convey a "plot involving crime and violence, usually of a personal, passionate nature" (Gunning 1999: 151). The 'crime' narrative was more or less a

prerequisite when it came to establishing a film as belonging in the noir genre ack in the 40's and 50's, but the narrative itself was being utilized in other forms of media entertainment such as radio programs, novels and in 'grown-up' comics.Popular comics which incorporated the crime narrative went by such names as Behind Prison Bars, Crime Does Not Pay and Gangsters And Gun Molls. The comic entitled Crimes By Women by the Fox Features Syndicate had the added similarity with film noirs by featuring vicious femme fatales who committed the crimes, only to be put to justice at the end.

The EC comics entitled Crime Superstories and Shock Suspense, as James Naremore mentions in his article, "were filled with restless suburban marriages, neurotic killers and corrupt police" (Naremore 1998: 258).Clearly these characteristics are synonymous with what is expected to be conveyed from the crime narratives in noir films. With any other film genres, noir films have distinct characters with roles, which can be easily familiarised with. The main character is usually a male within the ages of 20-45, and is either a detective or some other authority figure.

He is portrayed as a ard-nut loner who is depressed about his life and is highly vulnerable. This incomparable antihero is stuck in a life that has no happy ending, no matter how hard he tries to change it.His female cohort, on the other hand, is elegant and beautiful, and always uses her sexuality to get what she wants. She is career-driven and devious in her ways, always having ulterior motives to her actions.

This femme fatale is described as a "self-consumed, anti-domestic, anti-social female" and

thus "causing all manner of social mayhem" (Morris 2000: 1). While films can depict these haracter roles considerably well, it is in literary works whereby character roles are defined and established with greater depth.Classic novels such as the original interpretations of The Postman Always Rings Twice, They Shoot Horses Don't They and The Maltese Falcon conveyed the noir motivated characters with exceptional detail and subsequently were the basis behind the films which also garnered great success. The argument pertaining to whether neo-noir films have, in effect, betrayed the purity of the original style can be highly debatable.

The most obvious distinction between he two is the difference in cinematography. Old school noir films were shot inevitably in black and white and also in a specific screen size of 1:33.Many 'traditionalists' argue that noir films "required the format for which it was originally conceived" and rationalise that "the use of colour and the wider screen sizes..

. have ensured the genre's disappearance" (Hirsch 1999: 11). The counter-argument to that claim is that, in the modern age, contemporary audiences have been passively educated that all film experiences are merely to entertain and escape from reality. Thus, it can be said that these audiences would not appreciate, let alone notice the importance of adhering to the old school cinematography and, quite possibly deter from it due to its unfamiliarity and 'boring' imagery.Roman Polanski's film Chinatown is considered as the first neo-noir film that used colour and widescreen capabilities to visually enhance its noir experience. The majority of the key scenes were shot in daylight and the "color palette used was a real dull series of colors" (Kiesow 2000: 1).

This effect gives the film a sense of realism, thus making the ocations artistically beautiful and the characters and the time period in which it was set more authentic and believeable, while at the same time shifting the emphasis of the dark tone essential to noir to its narrative and character depiction.The implicit sexuality and violence that exists in contemporary neo-noir films is also a point of discussion to be raised in this argument. Due to the strict censorship codes that existed in the 1930's through to the 1960's, old school noirs had to adopt measures to imply sex and violence in its films. Writers Borde and Chaumeton ontend that "censorship actually heighten the effectiveness of certain films by forcing directors to rely on the power of suggestion" (Naremore 2002: 16).However, recent neo-noir films such as Jerry Goldsmith's Basic Instinct and Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver can be seen as clear examples of the importance of sex and violence to likewise increase the sense of reality and conviction in the films, especially in the portrayal and experiences of the characters.

The sex scenes in Basic Instinct plays an important part in determining the volatile relationship between the lead character and is female partner, since it is apparent that Detective Curran is risking his life every time when they do have sex and thus exemplifying the power that this female has over him.This obviously adds to the noir effect of having a dominant femme fatale as not only a lover but also someone who is able to, at her discretion, take his life in the process. Similarly, the violence shown in Taxi Driver, especially in the final

scenes when Travis brutally murders 'Sport' and his associate, plays a key role in determining the kind of life that Travis leads. The fact that he was considered a hero after ommitting the murders illustrates that he lives in a extremely dark and disturbing society whereby killing is not only tolerable, but praised by his peers.This 'doomed' life of Travis and the seedy environment, which surrounds him, are seen as key noir elements which enhances the effectiveness of the film.

In summary, it can be seen that the characteristics of noir can be loosely identified in other areas of the media, hence the phrase "noir mediascape". Characteristics such as noir iconography, themes, narratives and character portrayals have been implemented n other media sources such as radio, literature, comic books, magazine advertisements and even the contemporary arts.The debate regarding whether neo- noir films have betrayed the purity conveyed in classic noir films can be analysed by looking into the key differences in cinematography and the use of implicit sex and violence. By examining key neo-noir films such as Chinatown, Basic Instinct and Taxi Driver, it is evident that these differences does not deter from the essence of the noir genre and, in fact, works in its advantage to strengthen the noir experience.

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