Inglorious Basterds: A Need for Noir

Film Noir is the ever-present, ever-changing element that has inspired film and served not only as a genre, but as something that infect other genres.  Another key role it plays is its ability to morph films even today.  This is because “Noir is almost entirely a creation of postmodern culture”(Naremore 14).  With these two ideas, it is easy to see how noir elements are heavily present in film today, serving as that ever-changing, ever-infecting agent.  Take how its infected the film Inglorious Basterds.

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Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds struggles to be defined by a genre because of its unique ability to incorporate multiple film elements- the comic relief, the outlandish plot, romance, action, suspense, and more importantly, a noir factor.  Tarantino incorporates all of these ideas into his films in a way that is fast paced and something we have never seen before.  It is new even to our postmodern culture.  Though mixing the lines between genres is the way he achieves such an interesting story, this can only occur with the help of noir present in his films, specifically Inglorious Basterds.

Tarantino heavily relies on the femme fatale model in his character Shosanna to create a separate but significant storyline that moves the plot forward.  Shosanna’s story also serves as a way to blend romance, action, and suspense into his film.  From the very beginning of the film it is made clear that her story is important and will continue throughout the film.

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The idea of corruption and the city is a little farfetched, but it is still present through Colonel Hans Landa.  Its better to say that the Colonel serves as corruption, for his initial role is the man who rounds up the jews, and then he switches to his duplicitous role at the end of the film where he actually helps the Basterds kill Hitler.  He is in it for himself, he will stop at nothing to get his, no matter who he kills or what he has to do , this man is as corrupt as they come based off selfish desires.  Colonel Hans Landa also bridges the action, suspense, comic genre divide.

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One odd noir twist Tarantino places into his plot is his representation of hopelessness and despair through the Basterds.  The Basterds serve from a German perspective as the harbingers of death, whereas they represent success for Americans.  The focus in the film tends to be more on the German perspective for it is demonstrated on multiple occasions that life is over for these German soldiers.  Tarantino also uses this team to bridge the action, suspense, comic genre divide.

basterds

Noir elements are present throughout the film in various ways to help mold Tarantino’s story that bridges the genre divide.  He also uses noir to create a postmodern film that is enjoyed by society today.  Without noir present in this film, Tarantino would struggle crossing genre divides, and struggle creating an entertaining film.  Noir, the ever-changing element, the enigma of film, is something today’s film industry cannot do without.

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Ellie’s Project: Fight Club

“This is your life, and it’s ending one minute at a time.”

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For my analysis project I want to look at Fight Club and compare its neo-noir film elements with quintessential noir elements discussed throughout the course.  I would specifically like to address the themes of hopelessness, the fem fatal, corruption and the city, and I would also like to address the narrative of this film. Throughout my presentation my main point shall focus on how Fight Club has extended classic Noir and morphed it into something new.

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Taylor’s Project: Lawless

Within the world of modern cinema there are hundreds of unique visual styles and complex plots that each specific text encompasses. However, after studying the “genre” of noir, I’ve found that to this day some of these characteristics indeed re-surface in the Hollywood sphere.

Lawless, is a 2012 crime drama that has very much caught my interest, simply because of the various parrallels it shares with film noir. Crime, the un-heroic heroes, crookedness, femme fatales, a dangerously rough environment, and moral ambiguity all come together beautifully in this cinematic text.

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Joes Project

The piece of media I am going to look at for our project is the present day(2009) Sherlock Holmes. There are some quite obvious reasons was to why it could be closely related to Noir but after watching it again recently I think there are some aspects that will tie in nicely with the characteristics and effects that traditional Noir films contain. A clip to the movie showing one of the fight scenes can be found here. Should be interesting as well to compare present day portrayals of  “detectives” vs. past portrayals.

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Robert’s Project

For my analysis project, I have decided to look at the season 5 finale of Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The final four episodes of the season took plot points as well as aspects from 4 different Hitchcock films including Sabatoge, The Man Who Knew Too Much, To Catch a Theif, and The Wrong Man. I noticed that each of these episodes had elements of noir that we had gone over in class including corruption, the urban cityscape, a number of crimes/murders commited, the femme fatale, the hero (who is actually a heroine in this particular arc) as a detective/culprit who is wrongfully accused of the crime, morality as a grey area (not just black and white), and plenty of camera angles/lighting effects that could be considered noir. Of course since this is Star Wars, these particular episodes give off a Neo-Noir style similar to Blade Runner in a sense.
Here are a couple of images as well as the trailer to the finale:
The Clone Wars
 
Blade Runner

Easton’s Project

For my analysis project I have chosen to look at the film Batman: Mask Of the Phantasm. I have chosen this film based on what I consider to be a great deal of noir elements that it contains. I’m not sure if its necessarily neo-noir, but I should hope to draw some parallels to the readings and other films we have viewed in class. Here is the trailer for the film and some images.

 

 

 

 

Ashley’s Project

Just because something isn’t labeled “noir” doesn’t mean it doesn’t possess some of the same elements of a noir.  The movie Charade (1963) is a movie that is  technically categorized as a thriller/mystery, but there are some arguable components to consider it to be noir-esque.  There trailer is here!

Looking at the following images, you can sense some parallels without even watching the movie — the movie poster tells it to you.  Just from these images you see a man with a gun, a woman by his side, and violent scenes.

In my presentation, I will discuss elements of noir that I find and synthesize them with the readings and discussions from class.

Marvel Noir

Film Noir has paved the way for many opportunities in the contemporary media world.  The themes of Film Noir, such as  are still prevalent in today’s culture, whether it be neo-noir movies, books, video games, even music.  But one such new medium holding true to the essence of noir are Marvel’s Noir comic books.

From 2009 to 2010, Marvel issued monthly copies of their new comic book.  According to Wikipedia, the central premise “replaces super powers with driven, noir-flavored characterization.”  Several bloggers have taken an interest in examining these elements.

In their blog The Mouth of Dorkness, Brad and Matt discuss and review the noir elements found in these comic books.  Their familiarity with noir is basic as they fail to delve into appropriate detail.  They explain themes of noir, but they, however, did not link it to the Marvel Noir comic books.  For example, they identify themes, such as femme fatale, “moody” art, murder, and gangland war, but they did not explain how these elements are provided specifically in the comic book.  In their last remarks, Brad and Matt personally perceive the comics to be more of a pulp series (a publication that is centralized around a hero avenging innocent victims) than a noir series,  suggesting that some of the comics show no difference from their original stories.  Their last critique was that they hoped to see these comics in black and white print rather than in color as it is.  However, I do not fully agree with this.  Noir doesn’t necessarily need to be black and white to hold true because there are several other elements that make noir noir.  Some of these elements are ones that they have touched on, plus some more.

Noir Daredevil

One things that I have noticed that they have not mentioned in their review was the idea of being a “hero.”  Porfirio (1976) describes the heros of noir to be non-heroic.  Further, he explains that the protagonist of noir is someone that has a past — something has been taken or missing to them (p. 84).  The same could be said about the majority of these Marvel characters.  Additionally, noir heroes are more likely to do things to satisfy their own self-interest.  Take Daredevil, for example.  He was orphaned and left blinded at a young age by a gangster mob (something/someone has been taken and has since been missing from his life).  Since then, Daredevil has set out to avenge his own personal grief (satisfy personal interest).

As for femme fatale, all of the protagonists seem to fall victim to the women in their lives.  The Wikipedia page on each Marvel Noir comic explains the plot of each story.  In class, we discussed that women of noir are not passive, docile, or damsels in distress, instead, they take things into their own hands, which often causes danger for the protagonist.  (Sticking with Daredevil) Daredevil has countlessly followed Eliza (lady-interest) to insure her safety, but she has always lead him into trouble, which results in a fight scene.  Eliza is so independent and opaque that it was a surprise to find out that she was a killer herself.  In the end, Daredevil fought her and left her unconscious (the inevitable punishment that women receive in the end).

Original (Not noir)

As we can see, Noir continues to grow into different types of mediums, still carrying the essential themes and elements.   Marvel included several themes of noir in their adaptation which stim from the original film noir.  Brad and Matt had a good idea in their analysis of  Marvel Noir, but it wasn’t executed fully.  Delving deeper in, we are able to connect these comic books with what has been discussed in class and in readings.