Symbiosis International University Symbiosis School for Liberal Arts

Re-conceptualizing the Noir Film


The Film Noir, as a specific genre emerged in 1940s USA for a variety of reasons and has since then captivated the imaginations of millions of cinephiles from around the world. The basics of the genre are familiar to all of us: the dark streets, the low lighting of the street lamps, the beautiful femme fatales, the handsome yet weak heroes and the tragic endings. It was a genre responding to the times. And yet, the noir continues to elude simple definitions. Is it simply a genre in 1940s America or is it an international cinematic style and way of thinking?

In our course, we want to re think the noir film by looking at its history, its arrival in 1940s as a genre and its continuations in world cinema and television. The course will begin with a focus on understanding the noir as a style and mode of filming, its specific characteristics with regard to both content and form, its development as a genre and the study of specific texts as examples. It will then investigate the spread of noir as a style across the world- the neo noir films of Hollywood, European experiment with noir, the Asian noir cinemas and the Bombay noir. It will end by briefly examining the noir motifs in a spate of recent Television shows. 

 Course Objectives 

  • To learn the history of film noir
  • To acquaint the students with scholarly writings on cinema in general and film noir in particular
  • To understand the universal appeal of film noir
  • To develop critical vocabulary and tools to understand films

 Teaching Methodology 

  • The students will be expected to read the material distributed in the class and critically contribute to the ideas discussed in the class.
  • Classes will be held in the “Discussion mode”, emphasizing practical class activities and focusing on examples from a variety of films seen.
  • The focus will also be on studying in detail the filmic form and larger debates 



 Course Outline 

Sr. No Topics Hours
1 Unit 1: Conceptualizing the Film Noir
1. Genre and Noir
2. Hybridity and Heterogeneity
3. Cinephilia
2 Unit 2: History and Genealogy

1. Definitions, history, origins
2. Style and Themes
3. Plot and Story
4. Sexuality and Culture
3 Unit 3: 1940s and American Context
1. World War 2
2. Hollywood Studios
3. Stardom
4. Crime fiction and Film noir
5. Specific film examples
4. Unit 4: European cinema, crime, new wave and influence of Noir
1. Pre noir influences: German Expressionism and French Poetic Realism
2. Godard and Breathless
3. British crime cinema and noir
4. Post modern European Noir
5. Unit 5: Asian Noirs
1. The Noir in Asia: An Introduction
2. Japanese Horror
3. South Korean Crime Thrillers
4. Hong Kong and Film noir
6 Unit 6: Indian Noir
1. Bombay Film and the Noir tradition
2. 1950s
3. Bollywood and Noir Film
7. Unit 7: Neo Noir and the Hollywood
1. New Hollywood 1 and Post Classical Noir
2. Global Circulations in Hollywood
3. Science Fiction Cinema and Noir
4. Tarantino, Fincher and Noir
5. Television and Noir