Film Noir : The Art Of Darkness

I love B- movie themes, and unfortunately, we don’t see much of them in Bollywood movies.

Late filmmaker Vijay Anand explored the theme, and among the contemporary filmmakers, Sriram Raghavan, Anurag Kashyap, and Ramgopal Varma films have those flavours.

Mahesh Bhat too explored the topic in his productions. Since they are all A-list filmmakers, they hardly experimented with the noir lighting associated with it.

Guru Dutt was a master in that. Even his earlier themes – CID, Jaal were B- Movie themes. He moved away from the theme but remained with the noir lighting.





I was always attracted to the Film Noir. The play of the blacks and whites, brightness and shadows give edge and visual style to a film.

Unfortunately, it is not preferred by many in Bollywood. All you see is bright lighting and gloss everywhere.

The cinematographers and some directors love it, but the producers and the distributors don’t. So you will rarely find a Film noir style in recent movies.

I can only remember of ‘Monsoon Shootout’ in the last few months. One good example is Ramgopal Varma’s Sarkar trilogy.


Film noir doesn’t have a rigid meaning. It is a feeling through a visual style.

Noir means black so you can interpret it with anything dark – Dark stories, mysterious characters, dark mood or a filmmaking technique.

The earlier black and white films used this styling, but there was a reason for it.


Elements and Origins of Film Noir


Film Noir uses low-key lighting, better film quality, low budget, German expressionism and one dark story associated with it.

But how this style got into prominence, we have to go back to its origins.

I found a video on YouTube which elaborates the origins of film noir and you will see its distinct connection with the B- Movies. Check the video below from Filmmaker IQ 


Film Noir Characteristics

Film Noir characteristics are tricky as no one explicitly defines noir from the cinematic sense.

Some consider noir from the perspective of its lighting technique, some say they are about comic strip kind of fake perspectives, some label it as dark stories or mere pulp fiction and some look at noir from its black and white or under-saturated colour tones.

Here is an interesting take by Mathew Sweet in a BBC documentary about the film noir rules in the 40’s and50’sin Hollywood. It is a fascinating watch.


Best of Film Noir:

Here are some of the best films based on the noir themes.

Noir has a distinct visual style of filmmaking, and I confess I was drawn to filmmaking because of film noir themes which I never knew about then but was constantly seduced by them.



Film Noir Lighting Techniques:

FilmNoir lighting is relatively simple. After all, Noir evolved due to budgetary constraints.

Dark shadows to the extent it should black, and the complementary sharp and bright highlights are a common style involving Noir lighting.

DSLR Guide shows us how to do the basic lighting for FilmNoir. You can try it too for your short films.



The Neo-Noir Movies

Lately, I am watching Denis Villeneuve films, and all his films from Prisoners to Bladerunner follow noir theme and style.

The recent Blade Runner which has got cinematographer Roger Deakins nominated for the Oscars is a typical case of Neo-Noir.

So what are neo-noir movies?

The filmmakers introduced neo-noir when the films transitioned to colour, and they couldn’t depart from the powerful and edgy film noir themes of the black and white era.

They created their cinema carrying the traditions of noir in their coloured themes as well.

To understand it better, given below are the top 10 Neo-Noir films from which at least nine of them are my all-time favourites.

So check them out:



I hope you have a fair idea now film noir and its art of darkness.So, how about making a noir for yourself.

Make your noir films and post your links below. And also, what do you think about our Indian noirs.

How many can you recollect? Keep them coming.


Feature Photo : FilmSufi