Essay Exam: Observe cinematography shots and scenes. What atmosphere and message is the film conveying? "The Maltese Falcon" is considered to be a classic film noir. Based on the film's characters and cinematography, what aspects of the movie are clear representations of film noir? Draw information on the characteristic features of film noir from the module "Crime Culture in Fiction and Film" as well.
"The Maltese Falcon" is a considered a classic film noir because it embodies all the characteristics of one. Film noir is defined as "a movie about crime that uses dark shadows and lighting to show the complicated moral nature of the subject."(merriam-webster.com) Specific visual elements are key in determining whether or not a movie has the necessary components of a true film noir. Some of these visual elements are:.
Dark shadows, nighttime activity, and low-key lighting.
Extreme shapes and expressions.
Nightmarish, alienation, and disorientation.
Quick feints .
Complex and intricate plot.
Shifting roles of the protagonist.
Moves of a fighter.
Confusion of roles between the protagonist and antagonist(s).
Ill-fated relationship between the protagonist and society .
A protagonist with a questionable state of mind.
Protagonist is tainted with a cynical attitude.
Prior to viewing "The Maltese Falcon," I made the above list in order to better dissect the movie. "The Maltese Falcon" presents many elements of film noir, including Sam Spade's affair with his partner's wife. This plot line, combined with low-key lighting, a dark set design, and dialogue that is intricate and even misleading, clearly fit the film into the film noir category. .
In classic mystery films the roles of the characters shifted very little if any, whereas in films noir the roles are shirt and blurred to an extreme. In a film that is considered a film noir, the prey may turn into the predator or the hero may turn out to be the villain.