Codes and Conventions of Neo-Noir
Codes and Conventions of Neo-Noir
Elise, Lewis, Chris and Anthony
Common conventions of a Neo-Noir filmUsually an unreliable narrator or protagonistThere is a femme Fatale ( A sexy women who leads protagonist into danger)Location is often very down beat and out of the way Chiaroscuro lighting is also very typicalFrame within a frame, this is used to suggests isolationShallow depth of field and extreme close ups are used to create obscurity and isolationViolence and crime is a common theme Complex narrative structures
Typical openings Sin City- Titles start with a black and white city faded into the text, spelling out Sin City. The use of dark colours and light colours contrasting each other they also evoke the struggle between good and evil in a city filled with darkness and hatred. The title turns red which connotes danger and bloodshed The characters are shown to us in a black and white drawn format, this further supports the idea of people with good and evil. The music used builds up as each is person is introduced; suggesting tension is built up before the film starts.Chinatown-The titles begin with the main title fading in on a brown background in the style of an old film cinema, mimicking the 1920s and 30s (a time when these films started to become popular) A saxophone is used, giving the opening titles the atmosphere of an older piece when the blues music was popular, and the music really helps build up the atmosphere.
The opening shot is very dark, bushes so dark its a silhouette against the setting/rising suns sky. Darkness is used to create an atmosphere of grittiness and mystery because you cant see much of the shot, which ties into the narrative theory. At this point there is no music and the scene is almost silent, no non-diegetic sounds also ties into the mystery.This has hermeneutic codes in that we are questioning what is happening in the shot, which makes it mysterious.
Low-angle shot looking up at the main character, the shot gives us the idea that he is in a position of power. This is what is called hegemonic codes because it shows the male figure in a position of power.
Then a close-up of a pocket watch, this makes the audience confused as we have been faced with an enigma as we dont know who it belongs to. The pocket watch is the only thing in focus due to the shallow depth of field, creating obscurity and the lighting also helps.
The location is out of the way and quite down beat due to the shattered windows. Again were faced with an enigma, we dont know why were at this place.This is creating questions
Chiaroscuro lighting is being used, creating obscurity.The location is dark, making us believe that its possibly abandoned. The bars on the window help create a sense of threat and being caged in.
Scene is very dark, may be projecting the main characters thoughts and feeling into his surroundings, this person may be untrustworthy.May also be very sinister, we find this out through the voice over as he explains that he is an assassin.This confirms the audiences speculation.
Opens with an extreme close-up shot of the main character looking down on the body of a drowned girl.Slow sombre music which builds up throughout the whole of the opening, creating a sense of isolation due to the scenes remoteness.Violence and death is going to be a common theme. A close up of the main characters face shows he is feeling no emotion. This is an enigma we dont know what has happened, we are also faced with many close ups of different parts of the girls body.In the next scene shallow depth of field is used to create obscurity.
The story jumps back to two days previous which will end in the scene shown before the title was shown; it appears that the film starts at the end.
Main character is walking towards the camera from a distance, shallow depth of field is used, as he gets closer to his locker he comes into focus. A note shows a time and location, adding to the stream of hermeneutic codes and questions to be answered. You could also say that this note is creating a frame within a frame.
There is no dialogue from any characters; creating an eerie atmosphere and making the scenes creepy/mysterious. We are then shown another close up of our main characters face.
We are shown a close up of the inside of the phone box . We hear the voice of the main character for the first time when he picks up a ringing public phone to talk to whoever left him the note to meet.
We can see the car driving away while being focused on the cigarette (shallow depth of field)We see a close up shot of the cigarette which then transfers to an extreme close-up showing an arrow pointing down the cigarette, this is once again adding to the increasing amounts of hermeneutic questions from the audience.
The beginning of this film contradicts Todorovs theory of equilibrium, with it not starting where everything is how it should be, instead we are faced with an enigma. All the scenes shown in the opening title sequences support Barthes hermeneutic code theory, mystery is shown within the film as well as enigmas making the audience want to know more. Unanswered enigmas/questions tend to frustrate the audience, this is relatable to this opening as we are not told as to what is/was or will happen?
Frame within a frame to create a sense of isolation, the shallow depth of field also helps to convey obscurity. A low drone (non-diegetic) in the background, giving us the impression that something sinister has happened or is going to happen. Immediately faced with hermeneutic code, what has happened?
This scene is shot backwards, conveying obscurity, making us believe the narrator is untrustworthy/strange. Faced with an enigma, they way the image is slowly becoming undeveloped also give a sense of obscurity.
Here we are shown our narrator, the look on his face leads us to believe that he is unsure or confused; possibly untrustworthy. The blood and cuts on his face tells us that he is a violent person or has recently been involved in a violent situation. Chiaroscuro lighting is being used to create a sense of mystery and obscurity, we are only able to see half of his face. Binary oppositions are being used; this leads us to believe that this war between dark and light may be going on within him.
Close up shows blood making its way back up the wall, everything is obscure at the moment. The audience hasnt been shown or told why there is blood, again facing us with another enigma.
The beginning of this film contradicts Todorovs theory of equilibrium, it does not start where everything is how it should be, we are faced with an enigma. A common convention of each of these films is that they all seem to start in the middle or at the end. When watching this clip I realised that as the scene went on it started to get louder and louder, ending with the victims scream and a gunshot, this then abruptly ended this a black screen. This may give us an indication that everything is happening very fast in the narrators mind.Close up is used here, showing someone's glasses covered in blood, another hermeneutic code. The location seems as if it down beat or out of the way. The chiaroscuro lighting again creates mystery/obscurity. They are covered in blood which gives us the impression that something violent has happened.
Another close up, dirty floor gives us the impression that this location is out of the way. The chiaroscuro lighting also creates an enigma (hermeneutic code) This scene is very dark, the lighting creates obscurity, making it harder for us to understand the situation. The body and the blood gives us an indication that the man is injured/ dead, the narrator is the only other person in the room so far making us question his innocence.Chiaroscuro lighting is being used in this scene, these binary oppositions may reflect how the narrator is feeling in his mind (conflict between good and evil)This also conveys threat and obscurity as we cannot completely see what is going on in this particular scene.