Category Archives: Class Notes

Class Notes – 10/10/13

topic – what the paper is about
thesis – your position on the topuic

a good thesis:
1. encapsulates the argument of the paper
2. is specific
3. speaks to the broader themes of the paper

“In this paper, I will argue that _______________”



where is good to be found in the film noir?

what is the difference between these two phrases:

the film noir protagonist serves as the moral compass of the film
the film noir protagonist represents good in the film

if the film noir is a dark, gritty, space, how do we know what is right?
— audience?

Sam Spade
— treatment of women, greed —

protagonist in film noir always has flaws

to what degree are film noir protagonists aware of/conscious of their morally compromised actions?

the good not represented in one noir,. something you see represented through the actions of the characters — whether they regret something, or are worried about something, or feel remorse about something



— lose time
— film goes on without you or the character knowing what’s going on


point of view — and how we as spectators are aligned/or not aligned with the characters we’re watching

— during a black-out, our position as the audience is aligned with the character’s pespective

Asphalt Jungle
what are we meant to admire in a heist film?
— loyalty and friendship among the group
— teamwork
— how the plan was executed
— specialization
—> pressure felt by team and by audience

Class Notes – 9/26/13

Film Noir – Themes and Narrative Strategies

— film noir a sdark mirror —
— Existentialism — alienation and despair — how well can and do characters know one another?
=– dark underbelly of society
—- does this in part through settings: THE NOIR CITY — shadows, corruption — but also moving between low and high places
— critique of capitalism –

HOMELESSNESS — transience
city as trap

law and order

corruption and power

issues of gender and power

Narrative technique and strategy

Class Notes – 9/19/13

Defining Film Noir — what is film noir?

Group 1 (Infanit, Gin, Perla, Magaly, Carol, Stacey-Ann)

“A genre of film in which the lighting, characters, music, and overall theme has a dark undertone. Major characters portrayed are shady and the roles which are usually distinct in other genres are muddied and not easily differentiated. Storylines usually encompass some kind of mystery, which is solved at the end of the movie. Some film use flashbacks as a method of creating mystery.”

Group 2 (Krystine, Gladys, Veronica, Christian, Mike)

“A film that uses light and shadows. Usually a crime drama that focuses on a particular character or story with questionable motives.”

Group 3 (Kimberly, Andy, Gianpaul, Simon, Jonathan)

“Film noir is a drama that incorporates elements of shadows, darkness, tension, and mood to create a gritty atmosphere. Within this world are ambiguous characters, who could become good guys, bad guys, or something in between. The protagonist is usually associated with the femme fatale, who usually gets him into some kind of trouble.”

Group 4 (Andrew, Xavier, Danielle, Limmer)

“A noir film is a motion picture which uses shadows to create a dark ambiance throughout the film, along with a mystery to be solved. A femme fatale is usually involved and there is always a sense of tension in the air as the film progresses.”

Group 5 (Martin, Xiu Lan, Ya Zhi, Emmanuel, Melissa)

“Film noir are black and white films that use shadow-work to portray mysterious undertones. These films are crime-based and contain femme fatales, detectives, and the main protagonist who is slick and is always led into danger by the femme fatale.

Group 6 (Ebony, Sofia, Jonathan C, Malik)

“A genre of film style involving a lot of dark moods and negativity. The movies are very dramatic — crime stories. Generally framed around a femme fatale. And the films use shadows to tell a story of their own.”

Where is good to be found in the film noir?

Mysteries – solved
Maltese Falcon
Who killed Spade’s partner
What was the Maltese Falcon
who had the M.F.
Find out whether the protagonist will do the right thing?

where is good in the film noir?
— “in the emotions felt by the protagonist as well as the actions that were done by specific characters”
— “no good, just perceived as good”
— DI –

— KEYES (moral person) vs. NORA (innocent)

protagonist at the end usually winds up making the morally BETTER (not necessarily good)

Justice is served by end of film (?)

Double Indemnity – as book and film — differences
— something about movies, films that demands diff types of endings, portrayals, etc?

Class Notes – 9/12/13

Femme Fatale
— beautiful
— leads main character into danger
— feigns naivete to hide her manipulative goals
— could end up betraying the main character for the antagonist
— but she may grow attached to the main character
— usually appears out of nowhere

protagonist – antagonist

Analyzing Film and literature

Formal Elements
Background Music
Colors / visual palette
camera angle
Visual effects
Setting — e.g. Weather
Camera movement — zooming in and zooming
— how, as the audience, our perspective is framed by the film

Generic Conventions

figures of speech – metaphor/simile
abstract concepts – masculinity, free will

— Political context
— historical context
— cultural context
— economic context
— religious context
— artistic/literary context

history of other works