Elements Of Film Noir

Tuesday, February 1 by Layla Sinclair

If you want to learn about one of film’s most classic genres, read the elements of film noir below. Film noir is a genre of mystery and included older movies like “The Big Sleep” as well as newer films like “L.A. Confidential.” These types of films all share similar plot elements and film techniques, which make them noir films.

  1. Mystery. A noir film usually revolves around a mystery of some kind, usually involving a character’s murder (or faked murder). The mystery also can revolve around a stolen object that must be found, as with the “Maltese Falcon,” which is a classic example of film noir.
  2. Dark Colors. Noir film is often shot in black and white. Even if the movie is in color, the filmmakers often use shadows to set a distinctly darker mood throughout the film. The noir film, “Rebecca” used shadows throughout the film to help set the tone. This plays into the more sinister nature of film noir movies, in which danger lurks all around.
  3. Distinct Characters. In film noir, the main character is often a male detective who must solve the mystery while also providing narration over the course of the movie. He isn’t perfect and makes mistakes, often embodying the “antihero” persona. He usually ends up meeting a femme fatale at some point. She is another very important character of film noir, and usually uses seduction to trick or betray the main character. Typically, she ends up paying for her misdeeds, since there are no storybook happy endings in film noir.
  4. Flashbacks. Film noir often makes use of non-chronological storytelling, starting with an event and then moving backwards. An example is the movie “Sunset Boulevard,” which begins with a murder, then backtracks and tells the story from the point of view of the deceased.
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