Film Noir’s Progressive Portrayal of Women

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | Leave a comment

Raymond Chandler

“Yet the darkest of Chandler now appears clean-cut. Chandler evoked the spirit of noir through mood-setting and language, not cheap graphic gore. Now work that is hailed as ‘dark’ often seems close to putrid, almost unreadable…”
– Mick Hume, ‘Watching the Detectives’.

Raymond Chandler was one of the pulp fiction – mass produced detective stories- writers and scriptwriters in the 40-50s. His novels became the base for film noirs such as The Big Sleep, Strangers on a Train and Double Idemnity.

Chandler’s first novel, The Big Sleep, was written in three months and broke away from the previous detective novels at the time; it can be described as ‘unconventional’. It reflects the Great Depression that took place in America in the 1930s and it features the typical hard-boiled character Philip Marlowe. After the success of The Big Sleep, Philip Marlowe was also featured in Chandler’s following novels, such as Murder, My Sweet and Farewell My Lovely. While he is not afraid to risk physical harm, he does not dish out violence merely to settle scores. “Morally upright, he is not fooled by the genre’s usual femmes fatale, such as Carmen Sternwood in The Big Sleep.” [1]

Posted in Documentary | 1 Comment

Film Noir: a style or genre?

To start this discussion I am going to compare the definition of ‘genre’ and ‘style’:

Genre: categorizes films according to their similar storylines and obvious features. Eg: Western, Horror, Fantasy.

Style: categorizes the techniques used by filmakers and the way they choose to treat their work.

“A film style is a recognizable group of conventions used by filmmakers to add visual appeal, meaning, or depth to their work. It can encompass every aspect of film; dialogue, cinematography, attitude (i.e., seriousness or lack thereof).
Film style is distinct from film genre, which defines what a film is about – – Western films are about the American West, love stories are about love, and so on. Although some styles are strongly associated with certain genres, a style can be applied to any genre”


Arguments: is film noir a style or genre?

“Strictly speaking, film noir is not a genre, but rather the mood, style, point-of-view, or tone of a film. It is also helpful to realize that ‘film noir’ usually refers to a distinct historical period of film history – the decade of film-making after World War II, similar to the German Expressionism or the French New Wave periods. However, it was labeled as such only after the classic period – early noir film-makers didn’t even use the film designation (as they would the labels “western” or “musical”), and were not conscious that their films would be labeled noirs.” –

“Film noir has been said that it is and cannot be a genre because it is defined by mood and tone, it did not start out with a set of criteria to which any one filmmaker used to mould a film noir it came out of an historical context (Krutnik 16). It was coined by the French after they began to notice a certain similarity to American films after the war, they were foreboding, they consisted of shadows and pessimism, they dealt with thugs, dirty cops and nasty females (Krutnik 16 and 22). Film Noir was an unsystematic categorization of films made during or after World War II and had, in conjunction, certain narrative and thematic conventions (Krutnik 20). However if you were to look during our present day one could more or less say that film noir has become a genre. There are many films that set out to be ‘Film Noirs‘, take Sin City (2005). Sin City is a film that has both the semantic and syntactic approaches of film noir. It was done on purpose and made with conscious decisions as to the way the narrative and visuals would feel and relate to one another. To say that film noir is not a genre would only be telling of it’s origins, if it is at all possible given the definition of genre that a style can thus grow into a genre because of historical contributions and the aid of time than no other group of films is deserving more than the films of Film Noir (Bregent-Heald 136).” –

“Typical, more conventional genres are characterized by character and conflict whereas film noir is characterized by its tone and mood. It seems that the content required for a film to be considered noir is too” –

“What complicates the identification of noir as a genre is the fact that noir emerged from multiple layers of already identifiable genres, like the gangster film, the melodrama and the hard-boiled detective film. As a result, noir initially was identified as a movement or style rather than of genre. Over time, this debate has continued, complicating the understanding of film noir and even further, the understanding of film noir revisionism.” –

“If you think movies are defined by their themes, then you probably think of noir as a genre. If you define films by their visual look and tone, then to you noiris definitely a style.” –

“French for “black film” or “dark film”, film noir is a term used describe a genre of film popular in America between 1940 and 1960. Strictly speaking this is not a genre but a description of the film’s style and mood.

Film noir generally refers to the period between 1940 and 1960. Films made since then are sometimes referred to as film noir but some purists do not consider this appropriate. Recent films made in the style of film noir may be referred to as neo-noir or post-noir.

Film noir typically employs dark mood lighting, shadowy images, seedy locations, and crime/thriller plots with unhappy endings.

Corruption is a common theme, especially the downward moral slide of the anti-hero. Greed and sex feature frequently.

Film noir centres around unpleasant or destructive human emotion and behaviour. Protagonists experience feelings such as disillusionment, melancholy, hopelessness, pessimism, moral confusion, guilt, desperation, etc.” –

After reading all these arguments, I now believe that film noir is a film style, not genre, hence film noirs are characterized by their mood.

Posted in Documentary | 1 Comment

3.3 Investigation: Pakeha – Kiwi families in New Zealand TV drama and advertisement

This gallery contains 2 photos.

Main sources used: Shortland Street, Go Girls and Meet the Colemans.                                                                          Introduction The purpose of this research is to examine the representation of Pakeha-Kiwi families and its impact on society in a variety of media texts. I will discuss, … Continue reading

Gallery | 1 Comment

Representation Research

The topic I chose for the representation research is Paheka-Kiwi families in New Zealand. I chose this topic because I find it interesting how, although there are many different cultures present in New Zealand, in advertisements and media mostly white kiwi families are present.

The hard thing for me is that I have only been in New Zealand for a year, so I am not completely used to New Zealand media, which makes it hard for me to find useful sources. In my first researches I could not find many suitable websites or sources, and this theme does not appear to be widely discussed, so I think this project is going to be a challenge for me.

My key questions are:

1) How are kiwi families represented in mainstream NZ media?

2) In what ways it the Pakeha-NZ culture advertised on TV?

3) How are the representations of Kiwi families different from other cultures’?

4) How and why has that representation changed over the years?

5) What are the social and cultural consequences of these advertisements in NZ?

I expect to find more sources in Internet blogs (as they tend to contain stronger opinions) and TV shows/advertisements, as they reflect the kiwi culture relatively well. I am definitely going to ask my kiwi friends and acquaintances for first hand material.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Documentary: definition

There are many different ways of defining the word ‘documentary’. The word was presumably created by John Grierson, a Scottish documentary maker, who stated that documentaries portrayed the ‘real’ world better than scripted movies did, creating a sense of reality.
Grierson defined ‘documentary’ as a “creative treatment of actuality”, while film maker Dziga Vertov opted for “life as it is” and film critic Pare Lorentz defined it as “a factual film which is dramatic”. Personally, I like Grierson’s definition, I think that documentaries show what is going on in the world in a creative and interesting way.
The first documentaries were created some time before 1900 – when this genre did not even exist. They were often very simple and used single shots. At that time, many of the films made were for study purposes, especially about Science.
Moving on to the early 1900-20s, travel documentary (travelogues) gained fame, and were also used to promote the first color motion techniques. Kinemacolor and Prizmacolor used travelogues for advertisement while Technicolor focused on feature films.
In the 1920s documentaries were made using different styles and concepts: Romanticism, The city symphony, Kino-Pravda, Newsreel tradition.
For the next twenty years a common approach to documentaries was propagandist, where only one point of view was presented to the audience, intending to convince them. Some examples are Triumph of the Will, Why We Fight and Song of Ceylon.
From the 1950s to the 1970s, there were significative technical advances in documentary making, such as light, quality cameras and microphones. Handheld cameras became very common in the movement Cinéma vérité, and the editing process became more refined. – This is the website of the International Documentary Association, and it features recent films and video clips, articles and news on documentaries, I found it very interesting! The video clips are definitely an inspiration for media studies students 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

First Week Back

The first week back of our last year of school was scary, just because of the fact that it IS our last year. Last chance to do everything right! But apart from that, I can tell 2012 is going to be a fun year for everybody. I am especially ready to get challenged by Media Studies, bring it on! 🙂

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment