1. Entertainment
Send to a Friend via Email

Film Noir - Definition of Film Noir


Definition: The term film noir is used to describe a category of film characterized by an ominous, foreboding atmosphere that's established with dim lighting, suspense-building music and sound effects and with an unlikely hero standing up to a dangerous, cynical, evil leading character who is driving the plot.

The term is most often applied to narrative features, especially to films made in Hollywood during the 1940s and 50s. Typical titles include The Big Sleep (1946), D.O.A. (1950) and The Big Heat (1953), among others. More recently, film noir style has been used, often with reverential references to classic noir films, in contemporary dramatic features ranging from Chinatown (1974) to L.A. Confidential (1997). And, the noir genre has been widely parodied in films such as Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (1988).

In nonfiction filmmaking, noir style has been used to enhance the dramatic elements in the real life stories being told. Noir stylistic elements notably used by documentary filmmakers include shooting in black and white, using dim and mysterious lighting, shooting from forced or extreme camera angles, dramatically staged re-enactments, the use of suspense-building music and editing designed to make the film suspenseful for the audience -- even when the story's outcome is already known. Chasing Madoff (2011), directed by Jeff Prosserman, exemplifies the use of film noir style in a nonfiction film.

Also Known As: noir, black film, noir style, noir cinema, cinema noir
Documentary filmmaker Jeff Prosserman was influenced by 'film noir' style in the his making of Chasing Madoff, a nonfiction film about bringing the man who masterminded the world's largest Ponzi sceme to justice.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.