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L.A Confidential Film Noir

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The Key Conventions Of Film Noir In L.A Confidential

L.A Confidential (Curtis Hanson, 1997) is a neo-noir film about a shooting at an all night diner and the three Las Angeles policeman who investigate in their own unique ways. It is based on the book by James Ellroy and after a very well adapted screenplay, won nine academy awards. It starred actors with big names like Russell Crowe, Guy Pearce and Danny Devito, which made it a very high earning film.

The Narrative or storyline is much the same as any other film noir movie. It has a 'hard boiled' cop (Russell Crowe) who we grow attached to. The narrative of any film must have certain 'key conventions' which are apparent for the audience to tell the genre of the film. The narrative can be used to provide an explanation as to why the film contains certain things, or why a character does something.

The genre of the film is how we know what kind of film it is. Genre is a French word which literally means type; it shows what category a film comes under. There are certain factors in a genre which will identify it. Things like settings, characters and themes can all be similar in one specific genre.

'L.A Confidential is in the film noir genre. Other films in this genre are 'The Big Sleep', 'The Maltese Falcon' and 'Double Indemnity'. Lighting is very important in film noir. It uses techniques such as chiaroscuro to give the film a darker, more obscured feel. The characters are often similar in film noir. The main protagonist is always some hard boiled cop or investigator who doesn't always play by the book to get his desired results. There is often a femme fatale; a very pretty woman with whom the main protagonist has a love interest. There will always be bad guys who will try and stop the main protagonist from completing the case.

In L.A Confidential Danny Devito narrates. A narrator is quite common in noir films. The purpose of a narrator is to explain, to the audience, parts of the film which cannot be explained by conversation on screen or visually. A voice over is non- diagetic which means that we can hear it but it is not apparently coming from anywhere on screen. Danny Devito is perfect in this role because he has quite a seedy voice this is good to illustrate the sleaziness of film-noir, it shows the real voice of L.A.

The setting of film noir is usually quite cheap. This is used effectively to actually show the dark tacky parts of society where film-noir usually takes place. There is not a lot of light in these films and they are often set on location. A seedy underworld is often present in film-noir movies, where all the bad or undesirable parts of society are exposed. Things like drugs, alcohol, murder and corruption.

In my analysis I will be looking at a scene near the end of the film where Bud White and Ed Exeley take part in a shootout at the victory motel. The narrative conveys very common noir aspects here; the shootout takes place in a very dark room. The only light comes from outside. This shows the mood of the scene to be sinister and bleak. It puts the audience in a scared state as the shadows can conceal anything. It is also hard to see what White and Exeley are doing.



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