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ThatGingerAnna

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  1. After cinematography, set design and production are two of my favorite things about films in general and films noir in particular. In this scene, we get to know Lydecker through his furnishings and his own short narration, before we see him or understand his role in the film. When we are first introduced to the character he is unclothed and bathing, very much vulnerable. The detective invades his privacy symbolically by touching his belongings and physically by seeing him in the bath. Lydecker is more vulnerable as the scene progresses and even shows the detective his entire body at one point. This juxtaposition between raw human vulnerability and “lavish” material decadence is a great way to open the film. Lydecker is cloaked in things while physically naked, while the detective has nothing but clothes and a notebook. I like this introduction and think it was a great way to draw in the audience in an unsuspecting manner. The only connection we know of between Lydecker and Laura is his own confession that they have the same clock. From my perspective, it casts Lydecker as an unlikely suspect. He is physically vulnerable with the detective, keeps his story straight, and the only clue the detective has to this point is the common piece of furniture. Lydecker knows more about the detective than the detective knows about him, which disarms the audience, until the detective reveals his piece of evidence from two years prior. As mentioned above, one contribution this film provides to the style/movement/genre is its feature of class and wealth as a central element to the narrative, by way of objects. The producers use the set to introduce wealth and decadence as central elements of the film, before the plot is revealed. Lydeckers furnishings are used to reveal more about his character than any other element in the scene (rich, well traveled, presumably educated, etc.). This highlights the importance of set design and production in films noir. A dichotomy of masculinity also seems to be a principal element in this film and many other films noir. The audience is presented with a vulnerable, older, wealthy, presumably educated male, and a gritty, clever, street smart, stereotypically masculine, more ordinary male. This opening is unique and clever in many ways!
  2. I see film noir as a movement (a reaction to/reflection of cultural shifts) and style (cinematic tendencies and patterns in films with different narrative styles), but not a genre until later (when the films are purposefully created as films noir). The cynicism and defeat present in many films noir go hand-in-hand with post war cultural and psychological shifts. Both women, who lost the independence they had during the war, and men, mentally wounded in the war, craved different types of entertainment and film noir seems to have been the perfect reflection of this collective postwar disenchantment. This lends to the idea that it was a movement, as the cultural shifts created an environment for Hollywood to market this genre and capitalize on popular emotional changes in society. A great contemporary film that may (or may not) be considered film noir, which deals with the dark side of postwar America is Revolutionary Road (2008). While film noir as a style and movement can include a much wider array of films, film noir as a genre seems to be the perfect, realistic paradox to the “Leave it To Beaver” image that is projected back onto the postwar era. The stylistic tendencies, which we discussed at length last week, were numerous. Lighting and audio patterns are the most obvious to me, with the use of shadows being one of the most prevalent. I do not feel that film noir became a genre until directors and producers began purposefully creating films under the film noir label. As I have not yet seen enough films noir to properly analyze this transition, I don’t know what the implications were, but it is something I look forward to exploring further in the course. It’s very interesting that French critics, viewing this cultural shift from the outside, coined this term and saw the striking change in American films. One topic brought up in today’s lecture that is most interesting and is a pattern I have noticed in several films noir is that of femme fatale or “women casting their net and fatally contaminating the American male.” This is a striking and prevalent feature of the transition from style/movement to genre. While disturbing in many ways, the implications of continuously casting women as dangerous, deceptive, jealous, manipulative, and disloyal speaks to larger cultural ideals regarding gender at the time. This also highlights the idea that film noir was both reflective of national disenchantment and constructive, in that it reinforced prewar ideas about women, as women were being actively reconfined to the home. While films noir often casted women in either an evil or dependent role, they also reflected and constructed ideas of postwar masculinity. I believe both of these elements are important in assessing postwar films noir as a new genre, which reflected psychological shifts in the audience. All this being said, I wouldn’t go as far as to say that films produced in the immediate post war period are the only real films noir or that films noir can only reflect disenchantment in the immediate postwar era. Film noir as a style has roots well before the war (as is pointed out in the early European films we viewed last week) and influences films produced today. Film noir as a movement began before the war and includes this transition into a postwar genre. While film noir now seems to be a mix of all three, as this week’s lecture pointed out, I believe the techniques and stylistic tendencies are the most lasting and influential elements of film noir.
  3. This is one of the first films noir I ever saw (without the knowledge that it was film noir). I caught it in the middle and I remember thinking the POV camerawork was not a good fit for the film. Today, after seeing the opening scene, I still don't care for the first person POV and don't think it was successful. The use of first person POV is innovative in an of itself and besides the stabilization I do think it was done well (especially the change in elevation of the camera when Bogart is scaling the fence and entering the car). That being said, I love that the film features internal dialogue and character to character dialogue! The audience gets both audio and visual first person, which is a great start to the movie and a great tool to introduce the story.
  4. I wasn't as much shocked as intrigued by this opening scene. As far as important contributions to the genre, there are many. This is an excellent intro because it means the audience already knows the end result of the conflict. The writers and director are tasked with telling the story and keeping the audience's attention even when they know the outcome. This could be the end of a long drawn out event that we've yet to see or this could be the middle of the story where the writers must explain why this happened as well as show the audience what happens after. Several other things seem to be important contributions as well. This scene introduces so many elements that could be explored in the film and seem different than the two other intros we've seen, namely: race, class differences, and most strikingly, gender. The significance of the moon and changing shadows was also typical of the manipulation of light in the film noir genre/style-one of the only commonalities in all three of the films this week.
  5. I wasn't as much shocked as intrigued by this opening scene. As far as important contributions to the genre, there are many. This is an excellent intro because it means the audience already knows the end result of the conflict. The writers and director are tasked with telling the story and keeping the audience's attention even when they know the outcome. This could be the end of a long drawn out event that we've yet to see or this could be the middle of the story where the writers must explain why this happened as well as show the audience what happens after. Several other things seem to be important contributions as well. This scene introduces so many elements that could be explored in the film and seem different than the two other intros we've seen, namely: race, class differences, and most strikingly, gender. The significance of the moon and changing shadows was also typical of the manipulation of light in the film noir genre/style-one of the only commonalities in all three of the films this week.
  6. This scene definitely set an anxious tone for the start of the movie. The overwhelming audio (although devoid of dialogue) and unsteady camerawork created an idea that a collision was just around the corner-the audience is left waiting for that collision (literally or symbolically) to happen later in the film. While I haven't watched many films noir, the dependence of this scene on audio and camera techniques with almost zero input from actors to evoke emotion, seems pioneering for this film. While yesterday's film also employed camera angles and audio to evoke emotion, acting was irreplaceable in establishing the mood in that scene-not so for this film. The train is the star and is the driving force in setting the mood. At some points in this scene the train feels like it is out of the engineers' control, which adds some depth to the scene and plays on the classic man versus beast archetype, with technological innovation (the train) replacing the beast. Lack of dialogue, overwhelming and complicated audio, fire, the tunnel, optical illusion, and the various camera angles each added a dark touch to this intro.
  7. This scene definitely set an anxious tone for the start of the movie. The overwhelming audio (although devoid of dialogue) and unsteady camerawork created an idea that a collision was just around the corner-the audience is left waiting for that collision (literally or symbolically) to happen later in the film. While I haven't watched many films noir, the dependence of this scene on audio and camera techniques with almost zero input from actors to evoke emotion, seems pioneering for this film. While yesterday's film also employed camera angles and audio to evoke emotion, acting was irreplaceable in establishing the mood in that scene-not so for this film. The train is the star and is the driving force in setting the mood. At some points in this scene the train feels like it is out of the engineers' control, which adds some depth to the scene and plays on the classic man versus beast archetype, with technological innovation (the train) replacing the beast. Lack of dialogue, overwhelming and complicated audio, fire, the tunnel, optical illusion, and the various camera angles each added a dark touch to this intro.
  8. Several things intrigued me about the opening scenes. The camera angle looking over the children as they play, rather than from their point of view, establishes a somewhat paternalistic/voyeuristic mood. The sparseness of sound within the courtyard is also interesting. The only sound you hear is the echo of the children's song-no wind, no birds, no ambient noise at all until the woman on the balcony yell's for them to stop. Her warning also made me feel that she had a personal connection to the events in the song. It wasn't plain annoyance, but rather terror in her voice. Again in the last scene, the anonymous shadow is looking over the girl from same paternalistic/ominous angle the camera opened with. The tension set up between the policeman and this anonymous shadow is also an intriguing part of the scene because it establishes the normalcy of the man in shadow. He isn't monstrous, but rather he is out and about interacting with society, under the nose of the law. This opening portion ends mysteriously because although the audience is led to believe the man in shadow is the murderer, his anonymity allows for hope that the girl is still safe.
  9. Several things intrigued me about the opening scenes. The camera angle looking over the children as they play, rather than from their point of view, establishes a somewhat paternalistic/voyeuristic mood. The sparseness of sound within the courtyard is also interesting. The only sound you hear is the echo of the children's song-no wind, no birds, no ambient noise at all until the woman on the balcony yell's for them to stop. Her warning also made me feel that she had a personal connection to the events in the song. It wasn't plain annoyance, but rather terror in her voice. Again in the last scene, the anonymous shadow is looking over the girl from same paternalistic/ominous angle the camera opened with. The tension set up between the policeman and this anonymous shadow is also an intriguing part of the scene because it establishes the normalcy of the man in shadow. He isn't monstrous, but rather he is out and about interacting with society, under the nose of the law. This opening portion ends mysteriously because although the audience is led to believe the man in shadow is the murderer, his anonymity allows for hope that the girl is still safe.
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