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Films Noirs and Their Characteristics Essay


Films noirs concentrate on tormented characters who appear doomed to run in circles without the hope of finding a solution. Their actions cannot be accommodated in the rural areas because the societal rules are very strict. The characters are said to be alienated from the other members in the society, who have meaningful lives (Naremore 23). The films use characters who suffer for other persons’ mistakes.

The society does not take into account that the fall guy is cheated by the cunning people in the city. The city, which is regarded as the labyrinth, is the main location used as the setting. The urban settings are used in films noirs to portray the cities as dangerous places where all kinds of illegal activities take place. Within the city, the various locations used for actions are bars and gambling dens (Naremore 27; Dimendberg 24).

The characters in such places could be unethical detectives, immoral policemen, corrupt writers, femmes fatales, and unfaithful husbands. The urban settings are shown to be complex in terms of their architectural designs. The actions in films noirs take place at night, characterized by darkness.

The emotions of the main characters are reflected by the darkness and complexity of the urban settings. This is typical of urban settings where most crimes are committed at night (Naremore 45). The urban settings used in films noirs therefore parallel the main characters’ emotional state (Dimendberg 56).

The city life is so cruel and unforgiving. It does not support good citizens who are morally upright. The immoral, corrupt, and unethical characters thrive in the city (Naremore 56). The characters spend time in bars and gambling dens where all illegal activities in the society are committed. The illegal activities include murder, theft, adultery, and bribery.

On the other hand, the law abiding citizens who are hard working are destroyed in the city. The tormented characters are determined to kill all those they find good in the urban settings. These could be people they feel are hindering them from achieving their selfish immoral and corrupt goals (Porfirio 77). Thus, the city is full of immorality and corruption perpetuated by tormented characters at night.

Urban settings in neo-noir films evoke modernity in towns. This feature is contrary to the traditional urban settings that characterize films noirs (Dimendberg 16). The positioning of the urban settings in neo-noir films is near the horizontal one.

This reflects the attempts of the main characters to run away from their problems. The protagonists in neo-noir films cause problems that are related to technology, memory, and social identity (Naremore 23).

The structure of urban settings is characterized by good communication systems, territorial boundaries, and excellent works of architects (Porfirio 79). Spatial decentralization involves the creation of centrifugal and centripetal cities. The physical proximity is accomplished by reliable telecommunications networks.

The networks involve commuter trains, excellent roads, and national and international air travel. Thus, the city could be termed as a trap. On the other hand, the countryside could be seen as an obstacle that people must overcome in order to succeed in life (Porfirio 80).

Chinatown film was acted in the centripetal space within Los Angeles while it ended in the Chinatown. The urban settings in Chinatown demonstrate that the law has no place in towns where private organizations are in control. For example, Cross acts in ways that demonstrate his belief in being above the law. The city shows the efforts of law abiding citizens being brutally suppressed.

Corruption is so rampant in the city that most citizens accept it as a normal way of life. In fact, even the good people, like Lieutenant Escobar, have lost the intentions of fighting corruption in the city. The city life shows that noble leadership is a mirage. For example, Yelburton, a civic leader, obtains money from people to assist them to resolve many issues.

As a civic leader, he is supposed to serve the people, but not extort money from them. On the other hand, the Double Indemnity is a film noir which was produced in 1944. The city is used in the film as a character to portray people who are greedy and dishonest, both in public and private lives. Watching the way city life is sampled in the film leaves no doubt that city people are very greedy and insensitive.

For instance, Edward Robinson works in an insurance company, and he uses his position to cheat people by adjusting insurance claims. The city as a character is also used in the film noir to depict how marriages are facing problems in the city. Barbara Stanwyck is unfaithful wife of an industrious salesman who takes care of his family. The wife is dishonest to her husband, and she wishes he were dead.

The Devil in a Blue Dress was also acted in the centripetal space within Los Angeles, and private life settings like pubs characterize the film. The city is used as a character to depict sexual perversion in urban centers. For example, Teran is described as being physically and morally filthy.

The city is used to show how racism is rooted in the post World War II America. Individuals in the film are described as being black or white. Racism is so rampant that even little boys describe black people as “niggers”.

The city character in the film describes how people are regarded highly in towns for their stolen material wealth. For example, Daphine Monet is respected by many people for her wealth that she has stolen. The social and economic structures of the city are so complex that it would be difficult to monitor all the illegal activities.

The Killers is a film noir that was produced in 1946. The film revolves around illegal human killings and private investigations. The city settings allow two men to kill people without being noticed by people enforcing the law. Upon investigation, it is confirmed that the two men are being motivated by a femme fatale.

The use of cars in the city by the men depicts the opulence that characterizes the criminal world. On the other hand, The Detour is an exception of the films noirs because most of its actions take place in broad daylight and away from the city. The film is characterized by much malevolence, fate, and perversion.

It is characterized by irony because illegal activities take place during the day. This would depict the ineffectiveness of people responsible for preventing crime in the society. The film is also characterized by a femme fatale. The femme fatale plays a crucial role in motivating men to kill innocent persons.

In conclusion, films noirs are characterized by tormented characters who perpetuate illegal activities in urban settings. Adultery, racism, theft, and murder are some of the illegal activities that are rampant in the city. Femmes fatales are used to cheat motivate men to commit crime.

The city is used as a character to depict the complexity of the characters’ emotions. On the other hand, neo noir films depict characters who are trying to run away from their problems which are related to technology, memory, and social identity.

Works Cited

Dimendberg, Edward. Film noir and the spaces of modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004. Print.

Naremore, James. More than night: Film noir in its contexts. California: Univ of California Press, 2007. Print.

Porfirio, Robert G. “No Way Out: Existential Motifs in the Film Noir.” Film Noir Reader (1996): 77-94. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2019, August 20). Films Noirs and Their Characteristics. Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/commerrcialism-the-driving-force-of-american-television-essay/

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"Films Noirs and Their Characteristics." IvyPanda, 20 Aug. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/commerrcialism-the-driving-force-of-american-television-essay/.

1. IvyPanda. "Films Noirs and Their Characteristics." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/commerrcialism-the-driving-force-of-american-television-essay/.


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IvyPanda. "Films Noirs and Their Characteristics." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/commerrcialism-the-driving-force-of-american-television-essay/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Films Noirs and Their Characteristics." August 20, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/commerrcialism-the-driving-force-of-american-television-essay/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Films Noirs and Their Characteristics'. 20 August.

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