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Nolan's Noirs

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Moving Image Art 1
December 6, 2010

Nolan’s Noirs
In the 1940’s until the 1970’s, film noir was a huge part of Hollywood drama. Some films released under this genre during that time period include, The Maltese Falcon, Out of the Past, Kiss Me Deadly, Touch of Evil, Cape Fear, and Chinatown. In the 1980’s the genre largely died off or fell into a territory where it was parodied. Famous examples of this would be Robert Zemeckis’, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, or the Coen brothers’, The Big Lebowski. In present day, one of Hollywood’s biggest directors is Christopher Nolan. Audiences pour into the theaters to see his movies and bring their friends with them. He makes people not just enjoy themselves, but think and talk about the stories for days afterwards. Some audience members may not even notice, but Christopher Nolan has revived the film noir genre in modern times.

The website WiseGeek has a great description of film noir as, “the flip side of life. Doomed heroes, manipulative people and hidden personal and political agendas around every corner.” Sometimes though, critics act as if film noir always has to fit these stereotypes of a 1940’s or 50’s detective story told in black in white with corrupt characters and a protagonist set up to fail. They couldn’t be more wrong. These types of stories can be told in all sorts of eras and mediums outside of the detective framework. Nolan has been doing just that in the majority of his films, even since his first feature.

Nolan’s childhood was likely a large influence on why his signature style lies in noirs. He was born on July 30, 1970 and grew up in both London and Chicago. Life in the city, especially gang ridden Chicago, was often a theme in Hollywood film noirs. At an early age Nolan was shooting movies with his action figures on a Super-8 camera. As he got older he began filming movies with real actors and began studies at Cambridge University. There, Nolan joined the film society and began playing around...

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