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The Evolution of Film Noir: A Video Essay

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LangMIt turns out that WordPress has a coding disagreement with certain iframe embedded videos. Because of this, I invite you to follow the link to watch the video Drew Morton has newly released the penultimate installment of his encyclopediac introduction to Film Noir as a genre.

Watch: How Did Film Noir Evolve?

This video is a doozy, introducing a key genre concept of evolution. The four phases of the genre could apply widely, but of course Morton offers them as a way to understand how the characteristics of Film Noir came together, coalesced, and got all self-reflexive.

bladerunner-still1-lgThe phases:

  1. Experimental: Conventions are tested and shared.
  2. Classical: Conventions are stable and clear.
  3. Refinement: Variations are added to the conventions.
  4. Baroque: The genre becomes self-conscious and self-reflexive.

Morton points out that the source material for early Noir came from German Expressionism and crime melodrama among other sources, that this became a thing unto itself in the 40’s, but that by the 50’s and 60’s rolled around, movements like French New Wave were already adding variation and self-reflexiveness to the genre. By the time we get to more contemporary examples–Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang comes to my mind–Film Noir shows itself as a genre through the ease at which it can be parodied and self-consciously flexed and adapted.

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Author: Erin Perry

I'm a high school English teacher specializing in AP Literature and Film Analysis. I'm interested in most things geeky, including superheroes, vampires, zombies, teen culture, postmodern philosophy, pop culture analysis, and combinations of the aforementioned. Follow me on Twitter @eriuperry.

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