Paul Schrader Film Noir Essay

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The classification and cataloging of items seem to fulfill a basic need in human beings, whether it is vegetable, mineral or animal.

It seems that this basic need to analyze and categorize items applies also to objets d’art, including film – and the recognition or dismissal of film noir as a genre has been argued since the term was coined.

We will limit our subject matter here to the classic film noir period of 1941-1958, recognizing that all modern noir variants seek to emulate this period.

These modern While there is no decisive list of these films, and critics tend to add or remove films from their own personal lists of films noir, those that are commonly classified as such share a common theme perhaps best described by Paul Schrader in his 1972 “Note on Film Noir”: There is a passion for the past and present, but a fear of the future.

It recurs only twice before he and his now-dead soldier son faintly enter to watch the family welcome their new member, Marcus’s pal Toby.

“You see, Marcus, the ending is only the beginning.” Matthew’s address to us has become piece of fatherly advice. Seven prisoners escape from a concentration camp, and Ernst Wallau’s narration launches the film.

“I am Matthew Macauley,” says a face superimposed over imagery of radiant clouds. But so much of me is still living that I know now that the end is only the beginning.” This is indeed a beginning, of (1943).

Having died in the war, Matthew will guide us back to his hometown and his household’s daily routines.

The noir hero dreads to look ahead, but instead tries to survive by the day, and if unsuccessful at that, he retreats into the past.

Thus film noir’s techniques emphasize loss, nostalgia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity; then submerge these self-doubts in mannerism and style.


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