Film Noir

The Genre That Never Sleeps…

By Reyshan Parker


 “The prologue”

How my film stands up…

The comparison between the above successful films and my thesis film is very close.  The film exemplifies the genre conventions of film noir in almost every aspect.  From the character development, plot structure, dialogue, themes, sound design, musical score and shot design, I have created the beginning to a re-emergence of the genre for the 21’st century. I couldn’t be more pleased with every aspect of the filmmaking process during the production phases, and in the final product.

The strongest scene in Noir.0 “the prologue”, is the scene betweenthe protagonist, David Brissel, and the “good girl” Melanie Diangelo.  The scene takes place at an intimate bar table.  Melanie has sought out David in an attempt to sway him into getting back at her husband, whom David owes one hundred thousand dollars.  The scene’s dialogue however does not follow a cliché pattern, as it turns intimate and personal and more about the characters then the real reason they are sitting together.

The acting in the scene is superb with both actors bringing their “A” game to the table.  The character of Melanie pulls on the heartstrings of the audience, while David’s un-sureness about Melanie’s intentions keeps the scene in conflict.

The shot design, editing and lighting keeps true to the noir style, and a steady-cam shot opens the scene with medium shot on the bartender then pulls back to reveal David and Melanie getting their drinks. The camera pulls back with them as they take their seats at the table.  David lights a cigarette as the shots very between close ups and mediums in an approaching and receding pater depending on the emotional intensity of the moment. The scene climaxes with a close up passionate kiss between the two lost characters.

The music is light, intense and almost curious all at the same time keeping with the mood and tone of the scene.  Accenting the pacing and adding an overall esthetic to the scene, the music is noir in style with a modern twist.

Overall, the scene works on all levels.

Conversely, the weakest scene is the next to last in the film and takes place in an alley where Earl Jones attempts to blackmail the city councilmen, William Bloom.  Though the scene works fine, it is lackluster in its build to the climatic murder or Earl.  Adding to this problem is a lack of a two shot and a strait on close ups of both characters during the confrontation.  The scene takes place in three setups; a wide behind Earl, an over the shoulder to William, and a profile close up on Earl.  The sound, music and acting help to augment the visual’s of the scene, hiding the poor camera language, and giving it the intensity that it needs.  Overall the scene fails on some levels, but succeeds in others, either way it does its job.

I believe that understanding the genre conventions of movies aids greatly in any stylistic approach to a film.  Whether it is in the combining of genre conventions or following the strictest rules of a genre.  The influence of the specific conventions help to justify camera language, dialogue, and pacing, while allowing filmmakers an outline of possibilities and rules to either work with or break depending on the artistic vision of the film.

I hope you enjoyed the article.

Please check out my Noir Bookstore, Novels and Graphic Novels here. 

–Reyshan Parker