themes

Noir and Neonoir

Noir and Neonoir

Some call it a genre, others a movement, or even a fashion statement, but however one defines noir, with its signature femmes fatales, wisecracking tough guys, and dramatic, high-contrast cinematography, its appeal never seems to wane. Though its origins are in German expressionism and French crime films of the thirties, film noir has always been a distinctly American film movement, influenced and shaped as it was by American pulp fiction, wartime gender politics, and postwar nuclear anxieties. And since its forties and fifties heyday, the legacy of noir has spread everywhere—from Kurosawa (High and Low) to the French new wave (Alphaville) to the proliferation of “neonoirs” in the eighties (Coup de torchon) and nineties (Insomnia). Color may have seeped into noir’s rich gray palette over the years, but some things never change: anxiety, disillusionment, panic.