Film Noir, also called "black cinema", is a style of film which is known to create tension and drama and rarely consisted of happy or optimistic endings. This leads to the idea of it being a unique and distinctive concept.
Film Noir is a debatable concept, with many film critics arguing whether this concept is a genre or a film style. With the use of various stylistic conventions, Film Noir is easily considered to be a style over a genre. Such typical conventions that are seen in films such as "Double Indemnity" (1944) and "Lost Highway" (1997) include:
- Use of voice overs and music to emphasise current moods within the films.
- Use of shadows and low key lighting; creating effects e.g. silhouettes, chiaroscuro.
- Use of filming in black and white, in some cases, to provide the sense of mystery.
- Involvement of a femme fatale, or a homme fatale.
- Involvement of a crime investigation or a protagonist authority figure, e.g. a private detective.
Moreover, it is considered a genre due to such conventions being constant within such films and also being adapted into hybrids; which is evidently portrayed in "Fight Club" (1999). Hybrid films of this genre are most commonly produced after 1980's as an attemt for the genre to regain popularity. This further supports the side of the debate of Film Noir being considered a genre. This is elaborated by seeing old fashioned genres 'die out'; in other words, loose popularity. Westerns were most popular during the same time when Film Noirs were considered most popular; around 1940's to 1970's. Some film directors have attempted to renew the genre by creating Neo-Noirs, such as "Sin City: A Dame To Kill For" (2014), directed by Frank Miller. This continues to portray the key elements of a classic Film Noir but with an attempt to modernise it.