One of my major sources is a collection of books, Film Noir Reader (1-3). This collection gathers many different articles, notes and interviews on Film Noir in general and certain films in specific. It offers a great introduction to what it means to be a Film Noir, what’s the difference between Film Noir and its contemporary genres and many other trends about Film Noir (motifs, influence from German Expressionism and European Existentialism, social contexts etc.). For example, there are articles that talk about the styles and traits of Film Noir, such as themes of crime and corruption, anti-traditional cinematography and screenwriting, moods of paranoia and despair. Some articles analyze typical Noir films, for example, Kiss Me Deadly (1955) and provide a helpful list of directors, screenwriters and the films they produced (even cutting the Noir period into 3 phases). And there is one article that talks about Femme Fatale in details, which is closely related to my research topic: the femininity in Film Noir. This article addresses how the femme fatale created in Film Noir speaks to the socio-cultural trend in a somehow distorted way. The author’s explanation about the interesting and subtle position of femme fatale allows a connection to the gender issues in post-war 50s, which constitutes the other half of my research topic. The strength of this collection is that it gives a general and clear introduction to Film Noir as a style and an influential period of film history. The weakness, however, is that in this collection so far I haven’t found out answers to my preliminary questions about Film Noir, especially Femme Fatale: where did it come from? And what created it? Couples of articles have given some hints on the social background that gave birth to the Film Noir: the post-war disillusionment, the pessimism that broke out after decades of optimism, etc. but there’s no thorough information on the origin of Film Noir and the creative background for Femme Fatale, which I want to know more about and need to do more research on.
Silver, Alain, and James Ursini, eds. Film Noir Reader. New York: Limelight Editions, 1996. Print.
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