The Noir Style Hardcover – 1 Dec 1999
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"Smart text and great stills from the classic period . . . through the neo-noir films of the nineties. Perfect for a rainy night." --Helen Frangoulis, "Playboy"
"The commentary is wonderfully set off by 172 gorgeous black-and-white stills . . . This is a great look into one of the darkest of American popular genres." --"Elle"" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
Alain Silver and James Ursini are the authors of "Film Noir: The Encyclopedia." Alain Silver is also the author of "The Samurai Film, " and co-author of "Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles" (all available from Overlook). --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Although I had always felt these atmospheric effects and loved them in noir films, I could not articulate how they are accomplished. In this remarkable book, you will examine 172 photographs and supporting essays that will give you both a language for and a greater appreciation of the style's elements.
The book is connected to noir's origins as well as its future in the neo-noir of the 1990s. I found it very helpful to see the kind of images that inspired the noir directors and lighting experts to create the incredible effects.
The authors know their subject very well, and have selected outstanding examples for your pleasure. The photographs are stunning, and I found them simply irresistible. Photographs were used rather than film frames because photographs reproduce better, but most of the stills were actually used in a movie. Unless you are a film student, you will probably not have seen many of these before. Focusing on one or two actors and actresses in most cases, you will see much of the best of the style. I came away much more impressed with the acting in these scenes as I better understood the subtle conflicts that were explained in the essays to help me see how a scene often sets up to express four or five different ideas.
The types of scenes were grouped into chapters and subchapters that made the styles easier to understand, as you peruse several examples . . . the better to see the similarities and differences. One section is on Night and the City, another on Femme Fatales, a third on portraying dee psychological problems in the characters, a fourth on the reckless moment that dooms the characters, and a fifth on the use of mirrors and other doppelganger devices to exhibit divisions in motives and personality. There is an introductory chapter on the origins of noir, and a concluding one on neo-noir that shows the scenes that inspired the new noir movies of the 1990s (such as the Silence of the Lambs).
You might think that it would be depressing looking at all of these doomed, conflicted people. Actually, I had the opposite feeling, becoming more alive as I interacted with their intensity. Most of the men are very handsome, and the women georgeous so there is a baseline of physical beauty that is very appealing. This draws us into feeling more for them, as they face their doom. If you love movies, I suspect you'll have the same reaction.
Having become more familiar with the symbolism and methods of noir, you should begin to notice cases where television, movies, and advertising today subtly work to influence your mood. This should make you more aware of how your emotions can be manipulated and make you more likely to overcome inappropriate influences on your actions. For more on that subject, read Robert Cialdini's book, Influence. Think for yourself, and enjoy!
Most critics agree that style was one of the main elements of this genre and Paul Schrader went further to suggest that noir style was working out the conflict visually. Where would this kind of movie be without its deep shadows and expressive lighting? With over two hundred production stills the authors explore the various characteristics and meanings of this essentially American art form. What makes the book so wonderful for me, apart from the excellent design by Bernard Schleifer, are the stills, mostly large one to a page and beautifully printed as 175 screen duotones, they leap off the page. Each photo has a very comprehensive caption.
As well as the seven chapters there are several spreads called 'Motif' where certain visual treatments are examined in more detail, prison bars, dream and flashback, face and gesture, sexual debasement, night and the wheel and one I thought particularly interesting about photographer Weegee (his real name was Arthur Fellig and he got his obscure nickname from his job, in the twenties, at The New York Times, where he worked in the photo darkrooms removing excess water from prints before they were dried, he did this with a squeegee) he covered New York city for various tabloid papers and his style was a photographic version of the noir movies. Page forty-seven shows one of his photos of a dead man on a city pavement, wearing a blood soaked shirt, over the page is a still of Kirk Douglas playing dead from the movie `Out of the Past', they actually have very little in common, one is sanitised reel life the other is real life.
'The Noir Style' could not be any better and with Silver's 'Film Noir' encyclopaedia you will have a very full account of this fascinating movie genre. One other noir film book I have enjoyed is 'Dark City' by Eddie Muller, a detailed text and picture study. A neat touch is that Muller's written the book in the language style of the hardboiled private eye books of the forties...all three books hit the bull's eye!
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