Film Noir is French and means “black film”. This genre started in America during the war, but began to receive a greater attention in the forties and fifties. The content was inspired mostly by literature and previous film history. In the thirties, crime novels were popular, also called and known as hard-boiled novels. Another point which had a great influence on film noir movies is the traditional German Expressionism in the twenties. German Expressionism is the “creative movement” and development in the Northern European culture before World War 1. It focuses on the isolation of Germany during the first World War.
But Poetic Realism was a film movement in France that also had an impact on Film Noir. It arose in the twenties and is about realistic topics, for example, a character who has an unfortunate life, but gets a last chance to change (mostly the chance of love).
All these movie styles had a great influence on how film noir movies developed, as they all have the dark image of the world in common.
Nino Frank created the term “film noir” in 1946, however this term wasn’t widely used until several decades later. In the 1970’s “Film Noir” became its own separate genre, which then was then called “neo noir”.
It is coined by American mystery crime dramas and/or psychological thrillers which all have a really similar plot and common themes. Mostly the stories include choices which have to been made in difficult or dangerous situations.
It’s especially famous for it’s high contrasts with many shadows and little lightning.
The main characters include attractive femmes fatales, heroes and anti-heroes and detectives who are seen as tough guys.