Essay: Film Noir a Style or a Genre

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Film Noir: a style or a genre?

According to the Webster Online Dictionary, a genre is a "a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content." As we can see from this definition, a genre is, first of all, a category that reunites different artistic objects (artistic encompassing a generic term to include all art-related work, including music or literary pieces) with a similar style. From this definition, the concept of style is included in the concept of genre in the sense that it is one of the common elements that a piece must have to belong to a certain category.

At the same time, the style is "a distinctive manner of expression" or a distinctive type or form. As we can see, the style itself does not describe the category or an enumeration of objects with similar characteristics, but the characteristic itself in which the manner of expression is done. From this perspective as well, as previously mentioned, style defines, eventually, the genre into which a particular work can be included.

It is easy to get confused about these terms because one can notice that both terms have the tendency to categorize and split different elements according to common characteristics. From this point-of-view, it is difficult to decide whether a certain work belongs to a certain style (as in a manner of expression) or a particular genre (as in a category sharing common styles and characteristics).

The film noir shares several characteristics that makes it recognizable. First of all, as the film noir originated somewhere in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War, the environment that it describes reflects a certain overall pessimism that things are likely to improve. This type of pessimistic approach gives the film noir one of their characteristic grim feeling, with a society plagued by corruption, a cynical approach to things and a world where trust between individuals no longer exists and betrayal can come from anywhere.

This translates into the way that the film noir is often shot. The common denominator is the fact that the environment is often either rainy or dark, humid/windy/bad weather, often in darkness. In this darkness, occasional glimmers of light include carnival or festival lights, not necessarily as a positive approach, but often to contrast even more with the bleakness and darkness that surrounds most of the parts where the action takes place.

Another important characteristic is the fact that the main character is usually the type of anti-hero rather than the usual movie hero. He is not necessarily a positive character, has weaknesses and, despite being willing to fight for a cause, his motivations are often driven by… [END OF PREVIEW]

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