In More Than Night, James Naremore describes the category of film noir not as a set of narrative or stylistic features, but as a discursive formation: ‘film noir belongs to the history of ideas as much as to the history of cinema … It has less to do with a group of artefacts than with a discourse’.1 In the first instance, American film noir is a critical genre, ‘a belated reading of classic Hollywood that was popularised by cinéastes of the French New Wave, [and later] appropriated by reviewers, academics, and film makers, and then recycled on television’.2 Naremore describes a first, ‘historical’ age of film noir, enabled by the postwar arrival of Hollywood film into Paris, and a French predisposition to view the film noir as an ‘existential allegory of the white male condition’.3 In the late 1950s, French auteur film makers such as Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut took film noir as a pretext for reinventing cinema as a mode of self-expression. In the United States, the expansion of film noir was assisted by factors such as the importation of the French politique des auteurs, the upsurge of repertory theatre short seasons, the contribution of broadcast television to film literacy and the expansion of film courses in American universities. Along with shifts in Hollywood production methods and commercial infrastructure, these factors led to a delayed new wave of American film makers whose early films were influenced by the nouvelle vague and were ‘somewhat noirish in tone’.4
KeywordsTaxi Driver Body Heat Discursive Formation Christmas Tree Film Maker
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