Film Noir and the Arts of Lighting

Rutgers Univ. Jul. 2024. 272p. ISBN 9781978810259. pap. $37.95. FILM
An essential element of classic film noir is the cinematography, a style characterized by austere black-and-white images enhanced by sharp, ominous shadows. However, as Keating (communications, Trinity Univ.) argues, the film noir style is a wide-ranging blend of techniques that can be described as disjointed and low-key, with variable lighting encompassing untypical instances, such as brightly lit scenes flooded with light and even flat lighting. He explains how cinematographers used lighting techniques for modeling characters, highlighting social situations in the setting, and amplifying the emotional curve of a story. A chapter on the art of the close-up explains how various methods (including butterfly, loop, and Rembrandt) were used to light actors to convey particular moods. A wide range of films are used as examples, and entire sections are devoted to select films such as 1950’s The Asphalt Jungle and 1948’s Sorry, Wrong Number; Keating also discusses movies that are not often referred to as film noir, such as 1940’s The Letter. Well-chosen film stills provide examples of the techniques being discussed.
VERDICT This scholarly reference is a valuable source for film students and general readers interested in the art of Hollywood lighting.
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