Befitting to start the blog with this post...
My fascination with film noir began long before I could fully comprehend the subtle layers, the lighting and the composition, the subtly sinister atmosphere, the cynicism and the thrumming sexual undertone. I was all of 12 when I first saw The Big Sleep, and I fell in love with Philip Marlowe and Vivian Rutledge. To me they personified the private eye with an acid tongue and the dame with secrets. Everything - the black and white visuals, the tightly wound narrative, the brilliant denouement and even the jaunty angles of their hats - thrilled me to my core. To this day, Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall are up there on the pedestal for me which no other actor can touch.
As I grew older, these movies started unraveling their layers for my eyes. Double Indemnity revealed itself to be about sexual obsession and confused betrayals rather than just trying and failing to pull off the perfect crime, Gaslight turned out to be about the extent that greed can push you to destroy another's life, Sunset Boulevard was an actress's slow descent into fanstasy, madness and utter, impotent desperation. It was no longer about the femme fatale and the anti hero in a crisply unfolding whodunnit, It was about about the darker, more potent side of human nature portrayed so well at a time when MGM was producing technicolor candy floss extravaganzas by the score.
Maybe I should have specified this earlier, I am no expert of the genre, nor a film critic (which I am sure is amply clear by now), to me these movies were about a great escape. Yes, I know, escape from the big bad world to a murkier, macabre landscape hardly sounds like escape. But escape it was, to a place where men and women gave in to their desires (whether good or bad) without moralising, where endings were not always happy, where the lines between good and bad were blurred or non-existent.
Noir Dreams....I see some episodes of my life in noir. Walking back at night alone, a chance meeting with an acquaintance who always made me uneasy for undefinable reasons, on the ledge of a terrace drinking with friends, at a dimly lit bar waiting for someone and so many other ineffable, undefinable moments .
I think I've started the blog with an ominous tone, but as the name suggests, I intend to be extremely capricious, so expect my next post to be in an entirely different tangent and as cacophonous as this one:-)
In the meantime, dream some noir dreams with me.Watch A Touch of Evil, The Postman Always Rings Twice, Gilda, The Maltese Falcon, Dial M for Murder, Strangers on a Train, The Lady from Shanghai and lose yourself in the low key lighting, the edge-of-the-seat plots, the femme fatales in their tilted hats and feel the deep seated thrill of it all.