Attractions and negotiations of film noir in American cinema and culture

Attractions and negotiations of film noir in American cinema and culture

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Attractions and negotiations of film noir in American cinema and culture
Ricci, James
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[Tampa, Fla]
University of South Florida
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Dissertations, Academic -- Philosophy -- Masters -- USF ( lcsh )
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ABSTRACT: America's embrace of film noir came swift and furiously, the popularity of noir exists even in contemporary cinema. I would like to explore the implications as to why film noir has become one of the truest forms of American Cinema, perhaps even exceeding the western, as well as the reasoning as to why the American people have exalted a type of genre which is known primarily for its ties with human vice and depravity. In this investigation of the populations intrigue with noir I will address instances in select noir films that illustrate specific moments of the philosophical frame works of Michel Foucault. Through the application of these frameworks of thought I believe evidence can be found linking Film noir to primal human urges and desires that were initially discussed within the writings of these two philosophers.Throughout the evolution of cinema over the last 70 years, America has seen an abundance of reconditioned plots and outlines of classically structured stories. Film noir does not escape this refurbishment. With the collapse of the original Hollywood studio system as well as the infamous black list era, the ideology of Film making in America shifted enormously. This shift allowed cinema to reach into the postmodernist conditioning that had already been applied to literature and stage craft. The shift into postmodernism allowed for extraordinarily interesting developments in the genre of Film noir. Perhaps the most noted of these developments was that noir was no longer just a genre; it had become an actual ideology for telling a cinematic story. This is exemplified with the emergence of noir sensibilities throughout multiple contrasting film genres.This is illustrated throughout the arrival of such categories as the Science Fiction Noir, and most recently the genre of Neo-Noir. Neo-Noir is also home to the films that have attempted to satirize or parody the initial sensibilities of the original classic noir genre. The exploration of these new evolutions of noir constructed genres is of vast importance of understanding America's embrace of Film noir as a whole.
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
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by James Ricci.

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Attractions and negotiations of film noir in American cinema and culture
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by James Ricci.
[Tampa, Fla] :
b University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains 35 pages.
Thesis (M.L.A.)--University of South Florida, 2008.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic thesis) in PDF format.
ABSTRACT: America's embrace of film noir came swift and furiously, the popularity of noir exists even in contemporary cinema. I would like to explore the implications as to why film noir has become one of the truest forms of American Cinema, perhaps even exceeding the western, as well as the reasoning as to why the American people have exalted a type of genre which is known primarily for its ties with human vice and depravity. In this investigation of the populations intrigue with noir I will address instances in select noir films that illustrate specific moments of the philosophical frame works of Michel Foucault. Through the application of these frameworks of thought I believe evidence can be found linking Film noir to primal human urges and desires that were initially discussed within the writings of these two philosophers.Throughout the evolution of cinema over the last 70 years, America has seen an abundance of reconditioned plots and outlines of classically structured stories. Film noir does not escape this refurbishment. With the collapse of the original Hollywood studio system as well as the infamous black list era, the ideology of Film making in America shifted enormously. This shift allowed cinema to reach into the postmodernist conditioning that had already been applied to literature and stage craft. The shift into postmodernism allowed for extraordinarily interesting developments in the genre of Film noir. Perhaps the most noted of these developments was that noir was no longer just a genre; it had become an actual ideology for telling a cinematic story. This is exemplified with the emergence of noir sensibilities throughout multiple contrasting film genres.This is illustrated throughout the arrival of such categories as the Science Fiction Noir, and most recently the genre of Neo-Noir. Neo-Noir is also home to the films that have attempted to satirize or parody the initial sensibilities of the original classic noir genre. The exploration of these new evolutions of noir constructed genres is of vast importance of understanding America's embrace of Film noir as a whole.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Advisor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D.
Dissertations, Academic
x Philosophy
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
4 856


Attractions and Negotiations of Film Noir in American Cinema and Culture by James Ricci A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Department of Philosophy College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Phillip Sipiora, Ph.D. Steve Turner, Ph.D. Jay Hopler, MFA Date of Approval: April 11, 2008 Keywords: Foucault, Coen, Wilder, Scott, Johnson Copyright 2008, James A. Ricci


i Table of Contents Abstract ii Chapter One – An Introduction of Noir in Hollywood 1 Chapter Two – Connections within Discipline and Punish 7 Chapter Three – Connections within other works of Foucault 12 Chapter Four – A Circumstance of Noir Pastiche as seen in Miller’s Crossing 17 Chapter Five – A Circumstance of Neo-Noir as seen in Brick 22 Chapter Six – A Circumstance of Science Fiction Noir as seen in Blade Runner 28 List of References 34 Bibliography 35


ii Attractions and Negotiations of Film No ir in American Cinema and Culture James Ricci ABSTRACT AmericaÂ’s embrace of film noir came sw ift and furiously, the popularity of noir exists even in contemporary cinema. I would like to explore the implications as to why film noir has become one of the truest forms of American Cinema, perhaps even exceeding the western, as well as the reasoni ng as to why the American people have exalted a type of genre which is known primarily for its ties with human vice and depravity. In this investigation of the populations intrigue with noir I will address instances in select noir films that illustrate specific moments of the philosophical frame works of Michel Foucault. Through the appl ication of these frameworks of thought I believe evidence can be found linking Film noi r to primal human urges and desires that were initially discussed within the writings of these two philosophers. Throughout the evolution of cinema over th e last 70 years, America has seen an abundance of reconditioned plots and outlines of classically structured stories. Film noir does not escape this refurbishment. With the collapse of the orig inal Hollywood studio system as well as the infamous black list er a, the ideology of Film making in America shifted enormously. This shift allowed cinema to reach into the postmodernist conditioning that had already b een applied to literature and stage craft. The shift into postmodernism allowed for extraordinarily interesting developments in the


iii genre of Film noir. Perhaps the most noted of these developments was that noir was no longer just a genre; it had become an actual ideology for telling a cinematic story. This is exemplified with the emergence of noir sens ibilities throughout multiple contrasting film genres. This is illustrated throughout the arri val of such categories as the Science Fiction Noir, and most recently the genre of Neo-Noir Neo-Noir is also home to the films that have attempted to satirize or parody the ini tial sensibilities of th e original classic noir genre. The exploration of th ese new evolutions of noir cons tructed genres is of vast importance of understanding AmericaÂ’s embrace of Film noir as a whole.


1 Chapter One An Introduction of Noir in Hollywood There are few moments in the history of Am erican cinema that make as a deep an impression on cinematic culture and innovation as that of Film noir. As a genre that is widely considered to have started the ninete en-forties and fifties, Film noir was the basis for a cinematic experience that would come to instigate a mode of tortured psyches, depraved desires, and brutal characterizations up on HollywoodÂ’s silver screen. For much of AmericaÂ’s movie going audience, this catego ry of film would mark a deep departure from the wholesome silent comedic films of Charles Chaplin, or the innovative musicals of Alan Crosland. Film noir would bring a darkness to the mainstream studios of HollywoodÂ’s golden age. Films would now enga ge the audience to endure sinister plots of crime and depravity. The heroes of the classical western and war film would become shadowed by the introduction of the grizzled anti-hero, ofte n an individual saturated in physical vice and bottomless moral ambiguity. The virginal image of the virtuous female would become twisted by the vampish femme fatale ; feminine purity would become largely portrayed as something that was br oken or antiquated with in the realm of noir cinema. Throughout the presentation of coun tless crime driven noir dramas American audiences would be swept away. The r ough tongued gumshoe and the booze soaked lounge singer would become guides for the American everyman, allowing them to pay witness to a dark urban landscape that was otherwise unknown to a middle class blue


2 collar society. The emergence of Film noir in Hollywood began as one of very limited production value and relatively unknown st ars. The reason for this low budget production schematic and B-movie licensing was to maintain the film production quality far enough under the studio systems radar as to ensure that production codes would not be as stringent as they were on higher budgeted films of the era. Du ring the classic era of the Hollywood studio system, the production codes were very limiting to what could be presented in terms of characterization and of plot development. For example, if production codes were maintained a film could not show two characters in bed together if they were not each otherÂ’s spouse. Nor coul d a film allow a primar y character to commit a murder in the course of the story without going unpunished. These elements of plot control were far to confining for the vice driven noir films, thus the embrace of a Bmovie listing would ensure th at the budget was low enough to warrant any major studio interference. There have been hundreds of films created in the noir canon to date. While most maintain similar sensibilities to one another, there are a sele ct few that have stood out in contrast. This contrast within specific noir f ilms rests within a multitude of variables. By and large the films of noir th at have been held at a highe r standard; that have been remembered throughout the history of Holly wood filmmaking all shared a commonality in that they introduced a particular precedent in either film making or social commentary. American noir is considered to be set in precedence by the 1940 RKO release Stranger on the Third Floor director by Boris Ingster. While the film was panned critically at the time of its release it marked an important American introduction for the


3 actor Peter Lorre. Lorre was present through seve ral international noir films such as Fritz LangÂ’s M, and Alfred HitchcockÂ’s The Man Who Knew Too Much Lorre would also go on to appear in one of the most pivotal films of the noir genre, John HustonÂ’s 1941 directorial debut, The Maltese Falcon starring Humphrey Bogart and Mary Astor. The Maltese Falcon is considered to be a keysto ne classic of Hollywood Film noir. It was received with general favor ability and was nominated by the academy for three awards including best pi cture. This film would be John HustonÂ’s first directing experience and would solidify the professiona l acting careers of both Humphrey Bogart and his female counter part Mary Astor. Bogart portrays the character Sam Spade, a private investigator that woul d set a standard for the rough ne ck anti hero which would be invoked in countless noir f ilms follow its release. Another of the most memorable cinematic noir stories is that of Billy WilderÂ’s 1944 adaptation of James M. CainÂ’s novel Double Indemnity The film stars Fred MacMurray and Barbara Stanwyck. This f ilm was able to further establish the noir sensibility of a character driven deception with in the story line. St anwyckÂ’s portrayal of Phyllis Dietrichson was a defining moment in AmericaÂ’s popular reception of noir based characters in that it brought the vice and scandal of the femme fatale into a setting of a domestic home life. Now film goers were able to witness characters that were engaged in the darkness of noir that were not private in vestigators or urbane cocktail waitresses. These characters were more imme diate to the American Family. Commentary on social class ideology is also made through instances of the noir genre, illustrated in Howard HawksÂ’ 1946 adaptation of Raymond ChandlerÂ’s classic The Big Sleep Humphrey Bogart stars as Philip Marlow e, a street wise private investigator


4 that would echo his previous role of Sam Sp ade. Lauren Bacall is seen as Vivian Sternwood Rutledge, the daughter of an aristocrat that is trying to salvage her reckless younger sisterÂ’s indiscretions. What The Big Sleep brought to audience s was a sense of corruption in an elite family. An interesting aspect of this story line was the commentary on a wealthy familyÂ’s downfall coming internal ly, from its own members, as opposed to outside agency. In his acclaimed 1950 piece Sunset Boulevard Billy Wilder once more brought innovation to the noir cannon by introducing the filmÂ’s main charac ter Joe Gillis, post humorously. The opening sequence of William Holden floating face down in a swimming pool, while remarking on his own death through narration, is a directorial decision that is discussed in academia still ne arly six decades after it release. Gloria SwansonÂ’s Norma Desmond can be considered a queen amongst femme fatales ; locked in the immortal memories of golden cinema in her final stairs seque nce: descending the grand foyer of her mansion awaiting her clos e up from Mr. De Mille, unaware that her future holds little more then iron bars and padded cells. The legendary Alfred Hitchcock, after making his move from British to American film making, added his adaptation of Patricia HighsmithÂ’s StrangerÂ’s on a Train in 1951 to the noir cannon. Interesting in its deviat ion from a standard noir sensibility of the investigator and femme fatale characterization, this film wa s able to portray its lead characters, Guy Haines and Bruno Anthony, as doubles. Hitchcock was able to efficiently portray characters th at each sought similar instances of crime, yet maintained completely alternative historie s of social stature and class, though by the films finale an introspective viewer may noti ce the instances of doubling with in the two men. Each man


5 becomes the otherÂ’s dark side, blurri ng lines of virtue and corruption. With these few instances of classic noir cinema and the interesting observation of noir being a genre of film, with an enormous popular following, that functions primarily on vice and human degradation, se veral questions arise: How has noir maintained itself, not only as a genre of films that critics and scholars retu rn to constantly, but as a sensibility among other genres of films as well? While one can argue that it is impossible to create a true noir Film in contempor ary Hollywood, it is difficult to ignore the possibility that the genre of Film noir ha s transcended beyond the limitations of one single genre, and now touches the sensibilities and styles of all genr es of film making. Film noir will always have an audience. The reason it will always have an audience is because in human nature, there wi ll always be a drive; a thirst even, for exposure to the darkness of humanity. Pe ople desire to witness accounts of crime and depravity. They want to liv e along side of the tortured femme fatale to know of her broken past and her exploitations. The audi ence wants to walk along side of the noir anti-hero, no matter who or what he is, and watch him spiral madly into the depths of crime and alienation. Perhaps the reason th at audiences seek out these cinematic instances is that the screen provides a frame of safety; no matter how bad things get for a noir character, the viewer is content provi ding they are not dire ctly present for the murder, or the heist, or the beating. Does film noir present the audience with a form of catharsis? Does the viewer take release in the pain of the noir character? With an exploration of several texts by Michel Foucault, primarily Discipline and Punish an investigation of why audiences are attracted to noir will be addressed. Instances within Discipline and Punish will be applied to attempt an organization of what


6 the audience might experience as they witne ss the actions of noir ch aracters. FoucaultÂ’s texts The History of Sexuality Madness and Civilization as well as various short essays will be applied to isolate instances wi thin noir films that allow a broader contextualization of the noir audienceÂ’s connection to the conf lict and struggle of morality within the noir film. Within a specific analysis of the contemporary films MillerÂ’s Crossing, Brick, and Blade Runner an exploration will be conducted to facilitate the understanding that film noir is no longer an active genre of determined cinematic sensibilities, but has in fact evolved into a type of sensibility that is implemented throughout many genres of contemporary films.


7 Chapter Two Connections within Discipline and Punish In an effort to better understand what it is about film noir that attracts such a large following several issues found within the 1977 text Discipline and Punish by Michel Foucault can be addressed. In his medita tion on the corporeal spaces of reformation, Foucault posits that there is a moment of release in the sp ectacle of the public execution. Part of the reason that royalty would hold open execution as public shows would be to ensure that the common citizens of the land w ould bare a direct witness to what could potentially happen to them should they inve st in certain forms of lawlessness. Foucault recognizes that part of the reason that the crow d would attend these public executions was to witness a raw form of humanity that ta kes place within the condemned: “If the crowd gathered round the sc affold, it was not simply to witness the sufferings of the condemned man or to excite the anger of the executioner: it was to also to hear an individual who had nothing more to lose curse the judges, the laws, the government and religion.” What this passage su ggests is that the spectator becomes part of the licit action that the condemned indulges in duri ng their final moments. Even though the law abiding citizen ca nnot utter the curse that the criminal speaks, they can still take part in them through a vicarious exposure to the words of the condemned. It appears as if an attraction to film noir can wo rk on a similar level. This point can be illustrated in Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity During the scene in which Phyllis


8 Dietrichson and Walter Neff have decided to murder Phylli s’ husband by throwing him off the back of a moving train to collect on his life insurance money, it is very important to both characters that they body of Mr. Dietri chson be discovered on the train tracks. This discovery of the body on the tracks is im portant so that the double indemnity clause of his life insurance po licy can be invoked. However, on a more philosophical level, the spectacle of the body being displayed on the track s is just as important to the audience watching the film. The reason that it maintains this importance to the audience is that, even though the actions that P hyllis and Walter are taking part in are wrong, the viewer is still in an alliance with them. The audience wa nts these two illegitimat e lovers to pull the crime off, because once they are able to comm it this crime it is possible that the audience can experience their own deep rooted desire s to commit similar crimes of perversity without having to manifest these actions in reality. The crime on the screen provides a safe catharsis for the audiences own lust for vice. An instance of observation for Foucault is that within the judicial system, when a criminal is charged with a crime and a senten ce is handed out, it is more often than not a interpreted socially as a refl ection of the criminals worth as a human being: “…the judges have gradually, by means of a process that go es back very far indeed, taken to judging something other than crimes, namely, the ‘s oul’ of the criminal.” Fritz Lang’s 1931 release M illustrates an instance of this idea Peter Lorre plays the child killer Hans Beckert. The police force is unable to track down Beckert to end his predatory crimes. After many children are killed, the leaders of the criminal undergr ound decide that they must take mattes into their own hands of bringi ng justice to the murderer. What happens with this turn of events is very interesting on a social level. Once the crime bosses catch


9 Beckert, they put him through their own brand of mock trial to determ ine how he will be punished. So the audience must contend with criminals judging a criminal in order to reach a sense of jus tice. While the some of the me n that judge Beckert are common murders themselves, the viewer can often sy mpathize with their br and of rough justice that they subject Beckert to largely for the f act that Beckert preys on children. The jury of criminals does more than just sentence Beck ert for his crimes; they judge his soul for the nature of the crimes that he commits. During the final sequences of the film, while Beckert is on trail judged, quite literally by his peers, the audience finds themselves siding with criminal characters. It becomes an issue, for most viewers, of trying to find a connection with the le sser of two evils. Within M the viewer is witness to anothe r notion of Foucau lt’s disciplinary discourse. Foucault infers that the idea of capital punishment has undergone an evolution throughout its existence. In te rms of the corporeal body of the criminal, there has been a shift over the idea of what agency may clai m ownership over the condemned: “In the old system, the body of the condemned man became the king’s property, on which the sovereign left his mark and brought down the e ffects of his power. Now he will be rather the property of society, the object of a collective and us eful appropriation.” The aforementioned sequence within M may be applied to this id ea as well. Once Beckert has been captured by the leaders of the crimin al underworld, his body becomes condemned but does not belong to the governing ruler of Berlin, but instead to the society of Beckert’s criminal colleagues. Foucault suggests that there should be a parallel that is directly correla ted to the nature of punishment and crime. A punishme nt should fit the crime that was committed


10 and the duration of the punishment should only be maintained for as long as it takes to recognize the effect of regret within the cr iminal: “But the deli cate mechanism of the passions must not be constraine d in the same way or with the same insistence when they begin to improve; the punishment should diminish as it produces its effects.” An instance that illustrates this notion can be found in Tay Garnett’s 1946 noir The Postman Always Rings Twice At the film’s close Frank Chambers is tried and sentenced to die for the death of his lover Cora Smith. While Frank wa s not the cause of Cora’s death, he was the murderer of Car’s husband Nick. Through the tu rn of events within the film, Frank is never caught for the murder of Nick. Frank may be innocent of Cora’s specific murder, but he is guilty of murdering Nick. The punishment that awaits Frank is specifically designed to reprimand murder. Since Frank is sentenced to die, th ere is only one degree of his punishment’s effect. Frank’s punish ment will diminish completely once it has achieved the effect of his death. There is an interesting testam ent to the space of punishment in Discipline and Punish Foucault posits that there is a geography to the possibility of discipline: “Discipline sometimes requires enclosure, th e specification of a pl ace heterogeneous to all others and closed in upon itself. It is the protected place of disciplinary monotony.” This circumstance is illustrated in Sunset Boulevard directed by Billy Wilder in 1950. In this film Joe Gillis finds himself on the run from repossession agents, and ends up turning at random into the estate of Norma Desmond. What occurs after his arrival at Desmond’s home is a bizarre sequence of obsession, reje ction, and hopelessness. Norma quickly grows infatuated with Joe and de mands that he live at the esta te with her. Joe struggles internally with Norma’s attraction to him. Joe appreciates the material wealth the Norma


11 is able to provide him, but eventually grow s weary of her company. In JoeÂ’s eventual attempt to leave the estate, Norma become s overtaken with jealousy and a fear of abandonment, and murders Joe before he can de part. This film connects with FoucaultÂ’s idea of the geography of punishment in that Norm aÂ’s estate acts as JoeÂ’s own private hell. The location provides Joe with all the material gain that he could want, but what he cannot find at NormaÂ’s home is any semblan ce of love or hope. For Joe his punishment is bound to the location of NormaÂ’s estate. He cannot leave to pursue any happiness that might await him in the outside world. He is fo rced to live and eventually die in a location that he feels is pois onous to his spirit.


12 Chapter Three Connections within other works of Foucault In Foucault’s 1978 release The History of Sexuality he makes an interesting observation regarding the nature of the individual’s drive to discover truth: “We have at least invented a different kind of pleasure: pl easure in the truth of pleasure, the pleasure of knowing the truth, of discovering and expos ing it, the fascinati on of seeing it and telling it, or captivating and captu ring others by it, of confidi ng it in secret, of luring it out in the open…” What this statement suggests is that human beings have a strong impulse to understand the nature of tr uth, that a mystery might equal conflict in the heart of man. This point is exemplified in Howard Hawks’ The Big Sleep The way that this film validates an individual’s quest for truth is through the pres entation of main protagonist, Philip Marlowe. Marlowe is s a private inves tigator; it is the basis of his entire livelihood to produce the truth for his clients no matter what their question or concern might be. Since the main protagonist has this position in the framing of the film, the audience is immediately drawn into his conf licts and interests. The viewer must relate to Marlowe’s character in order to establish a direction w ithin the plot of the film. Because Marlowe wants to uncover the truth behind the mystery that he is hired to investigate, an alignment with his character by the viewer satisfies two desires: the firs t being that the audience has a strong and virtuous vessel to navigate the da ngers of the story with in. Marlowe acts as guide negotiating the rough urban terrain and se edy dealings with criminal society, the


13 audience has an undaunted trust for Marlowe though, and they will follow him without fear of deception or of being misconstrued. The second desire is what Foucault speaks of: the unending desire to discover the truth that is found in the soul of the individual. As long as Marlowe is in pursuit of the truth, the viewer will transpos e their won identity with his. They will live symbio tically within the eyes and ears of Marlowe’s character as he maneuvers toward the conclusion of the mystery that he is solving, and ultimately a form of truth. Foucault also mentions in The History of Sexuality that the nature of sexuality is repressed in common society and that through this socially placed repression sexuality becomes secretive: “But this of ten-stated theme, that sex is outside of discourse and that only the removing of an obstacle, the breaking of a secret, can clear th e way leading to it, is precisely what needs to be examined.” The Big Sleep contains plot elements that echo this sentiment as well. The investigation th at Marlowe is initially hired to complete revolves around the wealthy, but sickly General Sternwood. He is a man of deep wealth and allows his daughters to run freely thr oughout town. His youngest daughter, Carmen Sternwood has had indiscrete phot os taken of her and her fath er wishes Marlowe to find the negatives so that their family name is not sullied. The sexuality of the youngest is what is displayed within these photographs and is also what must remain a secret for the Sternwood family to maintain a respectable soci al status. The plot of the film revolves around Marlowe trying to unveil the secret of the location Carmen Sternwood’s photos, which have to be maintained as a secret publ icly on account of the sexuality that they depict. Here the film portrays an instance of sexual discourse that is only a secret because of the efforts that have been ta ken to ensure that it is repressed.


14 There is evidence in Foucault’s 1961 text Madness and Civilization chronicling the manner in which morality may be shifted fr om an inherit spiritua l virtue to that of commercial commodity: “The law of nations will no longer countenance the disorder of harts… Morality permitted itself to be ad ministered like trade of economy.” The character of Marlowe illustrates the licensing of morality as a commodity of economics. Marlowe’s character, in the nature of most anti-heroes, has a strong since of virtue and loyalty to those he is close to. However, he requires a payment to bring justice to the characters that exist outside of his circ le of associates. When General Sternwood requests that Marlowe find the lewd pictur es of Sternwood’s younge st daughter, Marlowe accepts the job. Marlowe agrees to find the pictures, not for the sake of engaging any form of moral high ground, but for the pay out once the pictures are discovered. Here Marlowe is a character of str ong virtue, but for him to take action morally regarding the needs of the Sternwood family requires financial motivation. Continuing the idea of an economic syst em within the genre of noir, Foucault suggests another aspect of the manner in whic h labor functions within the discourse of madness and paranoia: “But outside of the periods of crisis, confinement acquired another meaning. Its repressive function was co mbined with a new use. It was no longer merely a question of confining those out of work, but of giving work to those who had been confined and thus making them contribute to prosperity of all.” This idea reflects the instances within noir films in which the anti hero protagonist might pay lower echelon street criminals for information that would bring them closer to the higher profile criminal antagonists. This issue is exemplified in the Joel Coen’s 1991 crime drama Miller’s Crossing Throughout the course of the f ilm, the protagonist Tom Reagan


15 manipulates the street level degenerates of th e prohibition era city in which he lives. With the city acting as a space for criminal s that live off of bootlegging and gambling, Tom in turn switches the unemployed misc reants to employed informants. Through a combination of subtle manipulation and physical force, Tom turns the criminal minds that he encounters from serving selfish desires to aiding Tom in his jour ney toward a greater good of protecting his best frie nd and the woman he loves. In Nietzsche, Genealogy, History Foucault examines th e progression of the history of knowledge. He addresses that gene alogy is not a linear system, that there are many pockets of space throughout a time line that require investigation. What this essay suggests is that time does not exist as a single un it or a straight line, but that it exists as many units spread across a plane. Foucault ac knowledges that there is a certain form of danger that takes place when one researches: “I t discovers the violence of a position that sides against those who are happy in their ignorance, against the effective illusions by which humanity protects itself, a position that encourages the dangers of research and delights in disturbing discoveries.” This idea is embraced in Rain Johnson’s 2006 release Brick a contemporary film that invokes th e sensibilities of noi r and achieves the categorization of being a Neo-Noir film. The manner in which the film exemplifies Foucault’s thoughts of knowledge is that the film’s protagoni st, Brandon, is a high school student that takes the role of an unofficial private investigat or to unravel the mystery of his ex-girlfriend’s murderer. The deeper that Brandon moves throughout the underbelly of criminal activities at his school, the closer that he gets to finding out who committed the murder the more danger he is placed it. As Brandon gains knowledge, he becomes less safe. There is a direct correlation that ex hibits the more that he researches about the


16 crime the more disturbing the information has the appearance of becoming. The audience experiences a sense of danger alongside of Br andon. While the viewerÂ’s goal is the same as BrandonÂ’s throughout the film, the danger that he becomes exposed to remains completely objective to the audience. The viewer only invests emotion, which engages and removes the audience from the specific conflict of the scene. The characters are the ones that risk physical danger by the knowledge that they seek.


17 Chapter Four A Circumstance of Noir Pastiche as seen in MillerÂ’s Crossing In his essay Postmodernism and Consumer Society, Fredric Jameson offers a juxtaposition of the terms parody and pastic he. He suggests that while both ideas incorporate the use of a simulacra or mimicry of an already established style, they vary greatly in their individual execution and presentation. Par ody, Jameson posits, is the imitation of a form of artistic style that is us ed to bring humor or sa tire to the original concept. Once the presence of the satiric im pulse is removed then parody shifts into a mode of pastiche. Pastiche like parody, makes a focused effort on imitation. However, what pastiche lacks from parody is the tongue in cheek humor that is meant to satirize the original concept. Pastiche is a direct imitation of a form of style that takes itself seriously. To address and identify the idea of a Noir Pastiche in film, several cinematic concepts must be identified. Does the film of Noir Pastiche maintain similar sensibilities to the original genre of noir? How are the vi sual cues that imply a connection to the noir sensibility represented? Does the film portray these visual cues in such a way that they should be taken seriously or as parody? While there are many contemporary films in that might address these questions, the Coen BrotherÂ’s 1990 release, MillerÂ’s Crossing addresses each with a pointed grace and verbal finesse that is s carce in most films, classical or contemporary. What the CoenÂ’s have created with this film is a subt le blend of gangster film and noir. Perhaps


18 the most striking agent of MillerÂ’s Crossing that suggests its cla ssification as a noir pastiche is the harmony of the mise en scene that is imbued throughout the entire structure of the film. The film takes several noir sensibilities as plot devices. Tom Reagan, played by Gabriel Byrne, is the filmÂ’s protagonist. He is at once the tradit ional anti-hero of the classical noir genre. He is the right ha nd of the Irish kingpin Leo OÂ’Bannon. As the lieutenant of a prohibition era mob boss, Tom is involved with many criminal activities that run the gamut from bootlegg ing to racketeering. But as th e tradition of the anti-hero dictates, while he is engaged with many as pects of lawlessness, he is not without connection to virtue. TomÂ’s particular standa rd of morality is that he will not take another manÂ’s life. Tom maintains the phys ical characteristics of the classic noir protagonist as well. He is of ten adorned in the traditional dark trench coat and fedora, and is more than an armÂ’s reach away from a bottle of whiskey. Also in keeping w ith the noir tradition MillerÂ’s Crossing contains the presence of a beautiful femme fatale Vern Bernbaum, played by Ma rcia Gay Harding, is the woman who is trying to protect her brother Bernie. Bernie has fallen into bad grace with the local mob scene through a consistency of de generate gambling debts and the sale of privileged information. In an effort to keep Bernie alive, Verna enters into a romantic affair with both Leo and Tom, in the hopes that their feelings for her will result in protection for her brother. The filmÂ’s primary antagonist also echoes the classical noir villain in that he is unabashedly evil. Eddie Dane, played by J. E. Freeman, is a henchman for the Italian gang leader Johnny Caspar. Caspar is LeoÂ’s rival for political and territorial control over


19 their city. Eddie Dane is a character that cont ains no sympathy or mercy. He kills in cold blood and will listen to no word of reason beyond the command of his employer. The Dane is a character of complete da rkness, without a shred of redemption. The aesthetic of MillerÂ’s Crossing which enables the film to be regarded as a noir pastiche, includes the incorporation of a styliz ed dialogue that is di rect, sharp and riddled in wit. The Coen BrotherÂ’s explained in inte rviews that in writing the screenplay for the film they took a strong inspiration from the 1931 novel by Dashiell Hammett, The Glass Key With the roots of the filmÂ’s influence being found in the work of one of AmericaÂ’s most notorious noir fictionists, it is no far cry to suggest th at this connection alone would be enough to earn the film the labe l of noir. However, since MillerÂ’s Crossing was produced four decades beyond the timeline that encapsulates the life of the noir genre, the film can only be recognized for its imitation of the noir style. There are other moments in the aesthetic presentation of the f ilm that support the label of Noir Pastiche. The use of shadows and lighting to frame characters is a very important aspect of the filmÂ’s imitation of th e noir genre. One of the strongest instances of the use of shadowing in the film takes pl ace toward the conclusi on of the story. Tom, through a myriad arrangement of double cros sings and false information, manipulates a situation that allows Bernie to kill Johnny Ca spar. Once Tom arrives at the scene and discovers CasparÂ’s body he addresses Bernie an d explains that he t oo will have to die. While Tom slowly moves toward Bernie, the shadows of the staircase that they are located on move across his face, masking the expression that he is wearing. The use of alternating light and shadow on the character of Tom suggests a physical manifestation of the inner struggle that Tom is engaging in durin g his decision to kill Bernie. Since Tom


20 is a character that has resolved never to ki ll anyone, this scene is a moment of great significance to his development as a true anti -hero. He has to defy his own code of conduct in order to restore harmony within the un iverse that the film occurs in. In the final moments of the film, Tom is left st anding alone in a graveyard, the symbolic significance of which is that since he has defied his own standards he has become completely alienated by the associates and coll eagues that he once considered his friends. The only company he keeps during the filmÂ’s fina l frame is that of the man he killed. He has chosen a self-perpetuated exile over the indulgent life he once had as LeoÂ’s second in command. This decision to exile himself th at Tom makes is indicative of the noir antihero. The common trait of the anti-heroes of the noir genre is that they end up alone, often in prison or dead, in retribution of the crimes that they have committed. An important scene that speaks to th e imitation of many great noir films also comes toward the filmÂ’s close. The sequence occurs between Tom and Verna, and marks the moment of their final conflict in the plot. Tom has set in motion an elaborate plan to have both Caspar and Bernie kill one anot her. This plan was instigated through information that Verna provided Tom, unbeknow nst to Verna that Tom was planning on devising the murder of her br other. Verna eventually r ealizes that Tom double crossed her and meets him on a city street in the pouring rain. She pulls a small hand gun on him and threatens to kill him for lying to her. Despite that pain she feels from the betrayal, Verna truly does feel something along the li nes of love for Tom and cannot pull the trigger. She walks away from him sobbi ng through the rain. The use of lighting throughout this sequence is also of some im port. Both characters are shrouded in darkness, so much so that the viewer can onl y make out the profile of each character.


21 The strength of this darkness exemplifies the point that this is the blackest moment, emotionally and psychologically for each of the ch aractersÂ’ interactions with one another. There is a genuine affection between Tom a nd Verna, but it is eclipsed by deception and the self centricity of each of their individual motivations. Perhaps one of the most significant reasons that MillerÂ’s Crossing occurs in cinema as a noir pastiche and not a parody of noir is that the film takes itself very seriously. The characters in the film do not hint at any moments of comic relief or of satire; the direct actions th at each character engages in results in either their own destruction or abandonment. While the Coen BrotherÂ’s are often cited for the use of comedy and parody within their work, MillerÂ’s Crossing is a crucial piece of cinema that does not use or exploit the sensibilities of cl assic noir cinema to i ndicate any moments of levity throughout the film.


22 Chapter Five A Circumstance of Neo-Noir as Seen in Brick Few contemporary films have been able to achieve the edgy conventions of classic noir sensibilities in such a deeply unique way as Brick the 2005 feature film debut of director Rian Johnson. When Johnson initia lly wrote the screen play for what is now the motion picture Brick he was only 23 years old. It t ook him over six years to instigate funding for the project which was just over 450 thousand dollars. The result of JohnsonÂ’s efforts was the blossoming of a film that no pr evious director had ev er imagined in terms of style and effect. Johnson c ontends that the primary desire for the initial writing of Brick was found after having exposure to the lite rary contributions of detective genre fictionist Dashiell Hammett. One would not have to watch much of Brick to find such influential comparisons between Johnson and Hammett, specifically concerning morality and language. The film moves along in the general stru ctured fashion of many familiar noir tales, pulling obvious tones from Humphrey BogartÂ’s Philip Marlowe, and the calculated manipulation of femme fatales such as Mary Astor and Laur en Bacall. The establishing shots of the film also bear a remini scent echo to the unique openings of Sunset Boulevard and Double Indemnity in that one of the main characters of Brick is murdered almost immediately. Their story is later told thr ough a series of flashbacks that enables the viewer to gain a deeper understandi ng to the complexity of the story.


23 Brick is primarily a murder mystery. The film begins with a young woman Emily, speaking frantically to her ex-boyf riend Brandon, on a pay phone. Brandon is the filmÂ’s protagonist. He initially tries to calm Emily down but the line goes dead just as the screen cuts to a shot of a jet black Fo rd Mustang racing by. Brandon, after inquiring EmilyÂ’s last known whereabouts from mutual friends, discovers that she has been murdered and left in a drainage tunnel. After hiding her body, Brandon begins his own investigation, knowing that once the city police are involve d, the real truth behind her murder may never be found. The element of the local police being postured as inept in Brick is another tie that one could make to cl assic noir cinema. Popular noir films such as M and His Kind of Girl both portray residential law en forcement as being careless and clumsy in their investigations. Shortly af ter Brandon begins his own, informal mode of investigation he quickly tumbles into a subt erranean society of drug peddlers and hired thugs. The primary antagonist of the stor y is a drug pusher known only as The Pin. Early in the film Brandon introdu ces himself to The Pin as a source of future business, in an effort to get close enough to the dealer to determine whether or not he was the source of EmilyÂ’s murder. The filmÂ’s plot line weaves itself along as a standard and familiar detective story, JohnsonÂ’s innovation with the film itself take s place in his decision to set the action entirely within the realm of a southern California high school. Brandon and Emily are both Seniors, The Pin is a twenty something drop out, and the hired muscle that The Pin employs are high school bullies and thugs. Wh at Johnson manages to create through this revitalization of noir cinema is accomplishe d largely because the behavior of the


24 characters throughout the plot stay very hone st to the reality th at is imposed by the director. Johnson never places the characters in a position to be mocked or satirized, the actions and events in the film are presented in ways that do not come across as tongue in cheek or as a deconstruction of noir cinema in general. The film takes it self seriously and therefore requires an object ive stance from the audience. Brandon is an 18 year old character, but his character should be taken as merely a vessel for the soul of a down and out investigator in the tradition of Philip Marl owe. Laura, the mysterious girl who moves romantically between The Pin and Brandon is also just a young woman in high school, but her actions and motivations throughout th e film indicate the presence of a deep manipulation that was characteri stic of the many cinematic femme fatales that came before her. Having a noir film take place in a hi gh school removes individual visual indications that tether the id ea of noir sensibilitie s to one specific typecast. Now the viewer has a noir film that doesn Â’t require the lead character to wear the traditional over coat and fedora. Brick allows its characters to be di rtied up in other ways than by saturating them with gin, rye, and divorce. What Johnson has also created in placing this film in high school is a claim to his audien ce that what makes a film engaging in the tradition of the noir genre, more than setti ng or time frame is the language. Johnson openly admits to borrowing terminology from the literary works of Hammett and Highsmith, and the pacing of the characters sp eech is a definite nod toward Joel CoenÂ’s 1991 release MillerÂ’s Crossing What the viewer discovers after watching Brick is that any element of youth and naivet from char acters that should traditionally possess both


25 quickly vanish. BrandonÂ’s vernacular thr oughout the film is comprised of underground terminology that is edgy and street worn; a verb al joust of wit and rh etoric. Individuals in common society that are twice his age donÂ’ t speak as he does, which suggests that Johnson was not interested in the age of his char acters playing a factor in the relevance of what genre the film would ev entually become a part of. An important aspect of Brick that also ties it tightly to the sensibilities of noir is that the protagonist Brandon retains a sense of moral ambiguity thr oughout the enti rety of the film. This circumstance is brought to its zenith toward the filmÂ’s conclusion. Brandon has linked EmilyÂ’s murder to The PinÂ’s he nchman Tugger. In an effort to topple The PinÂ’s drug operation Brandon plays Tugger against The Pin through subtle manipulation. The scene takes place in The Pi nÂ’s office. The Pin is standing on the far left side of the shot and Tugger is on the right. Brandon is standing between them acting as a mediator for the conflict that he has crea ted. What makes this shot interesting is the color schematic of the charactersÂ’ wardrobe. Th e Pin is clad from head to toe in black, while Tugger is wearing a pr istine white shirt, Brandon; standing between the two adversaries is wearing a grey jacket. Th is symbolically illu strates that BrandonÂ’s character is not entirely a part of either side, but a neutral pl ayer in the game he has spun. Brandon is only seen once without his grey jacket on, which is during a flashback sequence. In this flashback he is wearing a crisp white undershirt. This exemplifies a moment from the characterÂ’s pa st in which he was innocent of the actions that he takes during the course of film. Once Brandon be gins to engage in sifting through the underworld of The Pin and his associates, he slips from innocen ce into a realm of questionable morality and is adorned in grey from that point forward.


26 A parallel also arises between Brandon a nd his nemesis suggesting a link to moral transformation as well. Both primary an tagonists, The Pin and Tugger, suffer from varying physical deformations. The Pin has a cl ub foot that forces him to walk with a limp and Tugger has a vicious scar running ver tically down the side of his forehead. JohnsonÂ’s effort to make the filmÂ’s antagonist s more monstrous than the other characters involved in the plot is not lost. An interesting devel opment occurs with BrandonÂ’s increased interactions with The Pin through out the film, he too becomes more physically altered. BrandonÂ’s physical tr ansformations are not perman ent however. They are the result of constant beatings that he receives from Tugger in an effort to reach The Pin throughout the story. By the final confrontati on BrandonÂ’s face is beaten to the point of being unrecognizable. It is his interactions with a morally devoid world that has caused him to be altered physically, connecting his de formities to that of the very individuals that he trying to fight against. The filmÂ’s resolution is also a reflect ion of many classical noir pieces. Once Brandon has overcome The Pin and Tugger, he re alizes that they we re being manipulated as well. The source of this manipulation was found in the beautiful female lead Laura. The element of a gorgeous and highly sexual femme fatale is an arguable necessity in telling a noir story, and Brick is no exception to this. The final scene of revelation takes place at dawn on the high school football fi eld. The time of day symbolizes BrandonÂ’s rebirth or renewal as a character. The cu ts on his face have already begun to heal slightly. He has victoriously overcome his dealings with The Pin, and the new day is ahead of him. Laura meets him on the field re lieved that he is alive from the previous nightÂ’s encounters. As she expresses her happiness Brandon fi nally determines the true


27 depth of LauraÂ’s involvement in EmilyÂ’s mu rder. He pulls her closely to him and whispers the details in her ear. The events that he describes are interjected through rapidly edited shots of each action taking pl ace, making the viewer an actual witness through the final moments of LauraÂ’s incrim ination. When Brandon finishes putting the pieces together Laura walks away from him, damaged and guilty. The final shot of the film shows Brandon standing alone on the fiel d, watching Laura move further and further away from him. This resolution is also i ndicative of many film noi r plots in that the conflict within the actual story is resolved but the characterÂ’s life doesnÂ’t really change in any aspect. Brandon is the same person at the close of the film as he was from the beginning. There is no spiritual growt h, only a fall from innocence through the knowledge that is gained over th e course of the story. One is left debating on whether or not Brandon is any better off for having di scovered the facts su rrounding EmilyÂ’s death, or if he will end up being even more tortur ed on account of having fallen in love with another woman who was never comp letely what she claimed. While Brick was only recently released in 2005 it nonetheless registers as a contemporary noir film by the se nsibilities that govern the classic noir movement of the 1940 and 50s. Brick within its own unique style and ch aracterization should be embraced as a film noir of post modernity much in the same light as Joel CoenÂ’s The Man Who WasnÂ’t There or as Ridley ScottÂ’s Blade Runner Rian Johnson has not so much redefined a genre of film as he has re freshed contemporary ideology of noir.


28 Chapter Six A Circumstance of Science Fiction Noir as seen in Blade Runner There is a constant sense of foreboding in Ridley ScottÂ’s Blade Runner The Science Fiction legend opens w ith an establishing shot s uggesting the height of urban bleakness. The city of Los Angeles in 2019 il lustrates the perfect dystopia. A twisted menagerie of concrete and steel, with not a tr ace of the natural world for as far as the eye can see. Great bursts of fire thrust into the black atmosphere, emitted from the tops of sky scrapers themselves. If the audience was not informed by the placard at the filmÂ’s start that they were staring down onto the fu ture of Los Angeles, one could easily think they were looking into the eternity of Hell. It is this landscape that first sugge sts an innovative take on presentation of Science Fiction. What Ridley Scott has done with his adaptation of Philip K. DickÂ’s Do AndroidÂ’s Dream of Electric Sheep? is crafted a new interior to the structure of the Science Fiction genre. This interior is a dorned with the implementation of sensibilities from the classic genre of f ilm noir. Throughout the film Blade Runner the audience will be presented with several arch etypes of noir elements that indicate the very essence of noir is permeable even in the most unlikely of genres. Blade Runner illustrates that the spirit of noir is very much alive in cont emporary filmmaking as well as in genres of storytelling, such as Science Fi ction, that are not traditional to the classic noir style of presentation.


29 The immediate noir sensibility that occurs in the film is the atmosphere of the setting. It is traditional of the noir film to take place in a very gritty and urbane environment. Noir requires a city to th rive in on account of the idea that noir is something that is instigated and perpetua ted by the evil of mankind. A noir story can never take place in the natural world as the crim es and vices that are vital to the basis of noir are only found in the slums of large industr ial quarters or the whiskey soaked streets of the downtown arenas. With Blade Runner the cityscape is a nightmare; it s a chaos of technology that acts as a breeding gr ound for depravity and lawlessness. The viewerÂ’s guide for this dystopian landscape is Rick Deckard portrayed by Harrison Ford. Deckard is himself a Blade R unner, the street term coined for the police investigators that are enlisted to track down re plicants. Replicants function as the filmÂ’s primary group of antagonists. They are engin eered creations designe d to replicate human beings in every way aside from emotions and life span. The film opens with replicants listed as an illegality and it is DeckardÂ’s assignment to track dow n four renegades and destroy them. The protagonist Deckard mirrors one of the strongest noir characteristics of the film which is the presen ce of the down and out, street wise anti-hero. Deckard is a character that has lived on the streets of LA for so long th at the vice of the city as permeated his virtue. He is at once pure and co rrupted by the city that he is an inhabitant of. He is able to negotiate the labyrinthine landscape as it is his home, yet he cannot speak the Pan-Asian dialect that has become the primary vernacular in order to perform the simplest function of ordering his own lunch. This circumstance echoes a familiar duality of the noir anti-h ero: he is both an insider and an outsider of the setting in which


30 he must perform his task. Beyond this duality there are visual cu es that indicate the influence and presence of noir sensibilities. Deckard is clad in the traditional dark colored over coat that muddles the visual of his physical prow ess, adding a literal surface level mystery of who he is internally. Hi s appearance is unkempt as if he has been negotiating the streets for nights on end. Deckard first receives his assignment to hunt down the replicants from his agency headquarters in a scene that mimics many classic noir films portrayal of private investigators offices. Deckard speaks with his superior while disc ussing the case file. The coloration of the scene is shrouded in ti nts of stark blue, grey and black, imposing an icy feel to the spectator. Bo th Deckard and his boss are saturated in dark blue, which exemplifies that the coldness of their setting ha s penetrated into their physicality as well. They are framed within the shot by copious amounts of smoke, further obscuring the view that the audience has of what is tran spiring. The use of sm oke and shadows in a traditional noir was important as it would act as an agent of concealment. The symbolic mystery of the noir characters would be physic ally manifested when their face would be partially covered in smoke or shadow, obstructi ng a clear view of thei r facial expressions and their eyes. This technique is mirrored in the briefing sequence with Deckard and his superior. The mystery and obscurity of Deckar dÂ’s expressions, due to the obscuration caused by lighting and smoke suggests that Sco tt did not want his audience to make up their minds about the morality of what wa s entailed in DeckardÂ’ s destruction of the replicants. Does the Tryell Corporation, the ag ency that created the replicants, have the moral right to destroy their creation?


31 This issue is one of the primary moral ambiguities that drives the movement of the plot line for the film. Once more conn ection is made between the presence of classical noir motivations in present cont emporary genres, specifically the idea of blurring morality. DeckardÂ’s anti-heroism is also rooted in his sensitivity to moral ambiguity. He understands the orders from hi s headquarters, but throughout the film and his contact with individual re plicants he begins to ques tion whether or not the Tyrell Corporation has license to dest roy their own creations. The largest aspect of DeckardÂ’s conflict occurs when he is introduced to Rachel. Rachel who is portrayed by Sean Y oung, for all intensive purposes, is the femme fatale of Blade Runner This, like the presence of an antihero protagonist, is a staple of classical noir structuring. The femme fatale that Rachel portrays deviates from the traditional model of the damaged beauty qu een of the Hollywood noir era. While she does maintain a physical beauty that enthralls Deckard, she does not have a broken past that is littered with vice and degrada tion. RachelÂ’s flaw that makes her the femme fatale is not that she has fallen to indi scretion in the past but that she is a replicant, one of the very subjects that Deckard is ordered to a ssassinate. The character element of Rachel that is added to the plot line brings a stronger level of conflic t that forces Deckard into an even deeper meditation of moral ambiguity. Now he faces the decision of betraying the establishment that employs him in an effort to seek an emotional connection with a character that is genetically unable to experience emotions. The idea that the femme fatale is an agent that will always draw the noi r anti-hero further away from the presence of a conventional establishment is a sensibility that was started cinema tically in the noir


32 genre. It has become immortalized. This particular sensibility has survived throughout decades of Hollywood film making and has fi rmly solidified itself as a reoccurring standard in contemporary films that bel ong to genres and styl es outside of noir specifically. While Deckard is an authority figure he is not a common polic e officer. He is instead an elite detective that is given the mission of finding the replicants. He is given this mission specifically because the common line of police officers below him are too inept to carry it out. The no tion that common law enforcemen t is too inept to solve the crimes committed is a condition of the noir genr e as well. Most noir films require a sense of rough justice in order to maintain the natura l order of the streets. This rough justice is not a power that common police officers possess. It is the anti-heroÂ’s responsibility to achieve the ability of maintain ing this rough justice. The anti-hero must be willing to ignore the law in order to get closer to th eir individual goals, be it good or bad. A sense of law in a noir film can be read as being ignorant to the life that takes place on the underbelly of the street, the anti-hero will often be stronge r and more savvy than the law at following clues and solving crimes. Toward the close of the film, once D eckard has defeated the final replicant antagonist, a startling revelation is made clear to the audience. This revelation is that there is a strong possibility that Deckar d himself may unknowingly been a replicant throughout the course of the film. This is th e zenith of DeckardÂ’s struggle as the noir anti-hero. His realization that he is the very thing that he has been trying to destroy through the entire story catapults his stance as an anti-her o to a tragic an ti-hero. His


33 greatest strength which was searching for replic ants and dispatching them has led to his own downfall of humanity. The film clos es with Deckard on the run from the inevitability of other Blade Runners, the one s that will undoubtedly come to destroy him as well. That Blade Runner is classified as a science fict ion noir film can be addressed by the visual apparatuses that occur in the film th at indicate its presence in a setting of the future. The taxi cabs and police cars hover through virtual air-space highways miles above the ground and the United States has a dopted trademarks sugge sting that a strong Asian influence has occurred on the culture a nd inhabitants of a future Los Angeles. Genetic engineering has become so advanced that human beings and animals can be manufactured to look identical to the actual specimens that they are designed after. Science has grown advanced e nough that it can manipulate the cognitive imagery that the human mind uses to manifest memory. Dr eams and memories are created on computers and can be installed in the mind virtually. These moments and elements of a dystopian future allow the film to be classified as being part of Science Fiction, while the plot structure and character str uggles allow it to simultaneous ly exist as noir film.


34 List of References Coen, Joel, dir. Miller’s Crossing Perf. Gabriel Byrne, Marcia Gay Harden, John Turturro. 20th Century Fox, 1990. Foucault, Michel. Discipline and Punish Trans. Alan Sheridan. New York: Vintage Books,1977. ---. “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History.” The Foucault Reader Ed. Paul Rainbow. New York: Random House, 1984. ---. The History of Sexuality Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage Books, 1978 ---. Madness and Civilization New York: Random House, 1965. Hawks, Howard, dir. The Big Sleep Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall. Warner Bros., 1946. Hitchcock, Alfred, dir. Strangers on a Train Perf. Farley Granger, Ruth Roman, Robert Walker. Warner Bros., 1951. Huston, John, dir. Maltese Falcon Perf. Humphrey Bogart, Ma ry Astor, Peter Lorre. Warner Bros., 1941. Jameson, Fredric. "Postmodernism and Consumer Society." The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern Culture Ed. Hal Foster. Washington: Bay Press, 1983. 111-25. Johnson, Rian, dir. Brick Perf. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emilie de Ravin, Nora Zehetner. Focus Features, 2006. Lang, Fritz, dir. M Perf. Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke. Paramount Pictures, 1933. Scott, Ridley, dir. Blade Runner Perf. Harrison Ford, Sean Young, Rutger Hauer. Warner Bros., 1982. Wilder, Billy, dir. Double Indemnity Perf. Fred MacMurray, Barbera Stanwyck. Paramount Pictures, 1944. ---. Sunset Boulevard Perf. William Holden, Gloria Sw anson. Paramount Pictures, 1950.


35 Bibliography Christopher, Nicholas. Somewhere in the Night New York: The Free Press, 1997. Cochran, David. American Noir Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, 2000. Dickos, Andrew. Street with No Name: A History of the Classic American Film Noir Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 2002. Gifford, Barry. Out of the Past: Adventures in Film Noir Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi, 2001. Maxfield, James. The Fatal Woman: Sources of Male Anxiety in American Film Noir, 1941-1991 New Jersey: Associated University Presses, 1996. Naremore, James. More Then Night: Film Noir in Its Contexts California: University of California Press, 1998. Muller, Eddie. Dark City Dames. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. Palmer, R. Barton. HollywoodÂ’s Dark Cinema: The American Film Noir New York: Twayne Publishers, 1994. Renzi, Thomas C. Cornell Woolrich from Pulp Noir to Film Noir North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, 2006 Telotte, J. P. Voices in the Dark: The Narrative Patterns of Film Noir Illinois: University of Illinois Press: 1989.


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