Film noir is a cinematic term used to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas. Some key features of film noir are; Cigarettes, narrations, guns, high contrast shadows and murder. The style takes a lot of its interpretation from the German expressionist cinematography. Most of the Film noir story lines are taken from hard-boiled crime novels from the 1920’s. The themes in film noir are extremely pessimistic and set in worlds full of dark alleyways, gangsters and lost hope. The films protagonists were beaten down by the world the film is set in, they would be damaged after the horrors of WW2 and trying to escape the post war world. This idea of the characters being trapped is shown through the cinematography as well as the story line.
The term ‘Film noir’ is French for ‘black film’. The term was first used by French film critic Nino Frank in 1946. Many film noir protagonists where private detectives and many of the plots had sexual undertones buy rarely were shown on-screen. Hollywood’s ‘Film noir period’ is generally seen as the early 1940’s to the 1950’s. Film noir films are usually shot it black and white with extreme low-key lighting and chiaroscuro.