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Note: the writer has to see the movie Double Indemnity to answer the following
Double Indemnity is often considered as a film that set a certain standard for film noir. If this is true, then we should expect that the film displays all the core traits of a film noir. But does it? How well does Double Indemnity align with the core traits of a film noir as discussed by Booker in his online article on the genre?
The following are Booker’s proposed core characteristics of film noir. Pick one or two of them and apply them (i.e. compare and contrast) to Double Indemnity. Write at minimum of three well-developed, error-free paragraphs.
1. The noir protagonist, typically male, is an unconventional hero. Sometimes he is seriously flawed, even evil or psychotic. Often, he is unusually violent or misogynistic. Sometimes he is simply an ordinary person who is thrust into extraordinary circumstances with which he is ill equipped to deal. Often, he is weak or ineffectual, confused and lost, particularly at the mercy of women. When he is strong and effective, he tends to be so on his own terms, often following his own moral code that differs substantially from the societal norm.
2. Women in film noir are often represented in stereotypical ways: the conniving bad girl and the virtuous good girl are the most common types, often placed in the same film in opposition to one another, perhaps competing for the affections of the same man. In many cases, though, noir women are actually far more complex than the classic Hollywood norm; they can be quite strong and capable (often more so than the male protagonist), but they sometimes have a tendency to use these characteristics to the detriment of the male protagonist, in which case they are usually given the label “femme fatale” (“fatal, or deadly, woman”). In a number of noir films, though, a woman character is the protagonist, and in this case she tends to be more virtuous than the femme fatale, though social pressures often force her into ruthless or unscrupulous actions.
3. Noir films tend to be informed by an air of moral crisis and uncertainty; characters are tempted by opportunities they know they should rightly decline or otherwise find themselves at a moral crossroads, knowing that the path they take will have crucial long-term consequences. Often the characters are morally ambiguous: they are neither fully good nor fully bad, nor are their actions. Borde and Chaumeton repeatedly emphasize the “ambiguity” of film noir and of the way in which noir films tend to break down easy distinctions, especially between good and evil, creating an effect of confusion that disorients viewers: “the moral ambivalence, criminal violence, and contradictory complexity of the situations and motives all combine to give the public a shared feeling of the anguish or insecurity, which is the identifying sign of film noir at this time” (Panorama 13).
4. Noir films tend to be skeptical of high-minded pronouncements and pessimistic about the future. They tend to suggest that life has no inherent meaning, though sometimes (in the mode of philosophical existentialism) characters are able to make their own meanings in life.
5. Noir films tend to be heavily stylized. The lighting, music, and camera placements are often intrusive, used to excess as a means of creating an atmosphere of mystery or uncertainty. Characters and plot events are not necessarily realistic in any conventional sense.