Have you ever had one of those days when you know you have something that has to be done – say – a blog post about your favorite noir book, movie or what-have-you, and everything that could possibly go wrong with your computer DID?
Yeah. The irony is that I had no idea what noir even meant (besides ‘black’ in French). After a fashion, it could be argued that I had a demonstration this morning, courtesy of my Netbook and Windows 7. Sigh. Windows. Why you suck so bad? Though granted, I’m comfortably certain there’s not a noir anything out there in the world that’s used that question.
I had to look up what constituted a noir film. I found an excellent site about film and film history. They have a very thorough write up about film noir – several pages. At its most basic, the site notes that film noir is a mood – dark mood, tone, and themes. It also generally refers to a historical period after WWII.
I then looked for a list of films. Yet another site listed the 100 greatest noir films. Ah ha! I can write about one those films! Surely . . . nope. Look at that. I have seen exactly zero of those movies. And here I thought my film education was reasonably well rounded.
Enter the NEO NOIR. (Movies made post 1960 that have the same mood/tone as film noir.) Pay dirt.
Bladerunner! It would never have occurred to me to call that ‘noir’. It is, to me, ultimately optimistic at its core. And of course, it’s science fiction first in my broken, disorganized brain. But, you know, amidst all of the classically scifi questions of ‘what constitutes life’, ‘what makes us human’, ‘what is humanity’s fate at the hands of humanity’s creations’, there IS a dark, fatalistic core to Bladerunner.
<SPOILERS BELOW: If you want to see the film, stop here. It is well worth a look. If you have seen the movie, nothing here will surprise you.>
The hero’s humanity is, finally, only intact because it is so fractured and his moral sense so warped and unutterably human. Not *humane*, but certainly human. And there is question at the end of the movie whether that’s a good thing. He’s flying off into the sunset talking about being with someone he ‘loves’. Never mind that he had to rape her to get her to admit she isn’t actually human. Ultimately, he’s human because he can love – but IS that really love or some kind of Stockholm Syndrome? I had always thought it was an optimistic movie because Deckard’s humanity is confirmed – albeit in a totally inhumane way. Thus. Noir.
Even though I love movies, I have not seen a single film nominated for the Oscars. Not one. No time. ~Lesigh~ The only movies I manage to sneak in are with my kid as a family activity and half of those, I pay for on demand, months after they’ve been in the movie theater. No complaints really. My life is full. So I’ll talk about my all-time favorite Oscar films with a focus on love.
While there are truly many great Oscar-winning films (list here), if I only had two of them, my film library would be complete. The first is quite simply one of best films about love ever made—Casablanca (3 Oscars including best picture in 1943). No HEA here. In the world of Casablanca, where the world hangs in a balance with World War II in full blaze, we see and feel the sacrifices that people, flawed and beaten up, are willing to make for love. It’s love at its most unselfish and its most painful. Sometimes the price of love is the ability to say good bye, to let go for a greater good. Or because it is what’s best for the one you love.
Because life is not always such a downer, my other favorite must-have Oscar winner is Lord of the Rings: Return of the King which ran away with 11 Oscars including best picture in 2003. Actually I love and own all three of the trilogy, but this one took best picture so I’m going with it.
While LOTR has an HEA—the world is saved, Aragorn and Arwen get their happy ending, Eowyn finds love in Faramir, and Sam discovers the courage to win his Rosie—the real love this story celebrates is friendship. The relationship between Sam and Frodo grounds the movie and enables all the others to get to their happy ending. Sam, who never wanted to be a hero or leave the Shire, stays with Frodo to the bitter end. Even if Frodo cannot himself throw the ring, Sam’s dogged loyalty and reliability got him all the way to that precipice in Mt. Doom and home again. Love should always bring you home.
So how have award winning movies captured love at its best? Which of them are must owns and why?