Film Noir: Double Indemnity

One of the most famous Film Noir films of all time is Double Indemnity. For this reason, I picked Double Indemnity to demonstrate some of the elements used to visually convey conventions of the genre. If I had to rate it, I would give it a 9 out of 10, I enjoy classic movies, and even a few film noir, but I think I am more of a Casablanca, or Hitchcock fan, I guess you could say.

As a filmmaker I love the expression used in film noir movies through lighting. The lighting and camera techniques used, become a part of the storytelling process which distinguish Film Noir from other genres, even though it is not considered a genre itself. In addition, I appreciate how the lighting provides a visual commentary on how the filmmakers view certain characters or situations. Using the techniques of especially shadows, filmmakers are able to silently convey important information to the audience. The reading gives several examples of how these techniques are used. “Film noir films were marked visually by expressionistic lighting, deep-focus or depth of field camera work, disorienting visual schemes, jarring editing or juxtaposition of elements, ominous shadows, skewed camera angles (usually vertical or diagonal rather than horizontal), circling cigarette smoke, existential sensibilities, and unbalanced or moody compositions. Settings were often interiors with low-key (or single-source) lighting, venetian-blinded windows and rooms, and dark, claustrophobic, gloomy appearances.”

(I know this is technically the same scene that Ashley posted about, but I am going to talk about the beginning portion, instead of the portion she wrote about.)

For that reason I picked the scene when Mrs. Dietrichson comes and visits Walter in his apartment. Walter is smoking at his window in the dark; the absence of the light shows that he is feeling “dark”; perhaps guilty, worried, or depressed. Whatever he is feeling the darkness indicates he is still churning over the events of earlier that day. As the scene progresses and she enters he turns on the nearby lamp, showing the audience that he is attempting to stay professional. Because a businessman does not allow himself to be alone with a client in his apartment with the lights off. At the beginning of the conversation Walter keeps his guard up, acting coolly not giving into her seductive attempts. However, he gives in and kisses her, and then they go to the mostly dark kitchen, in which they are shrouded in darkness again. The darkness indicates they know what they just did was wrong.

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