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Faced with the persistence of this deceptive vision and the oblivion of the French “black” tradition, it is necessary to update the implications of the name in France in the 1930s. What did the expression “film noir” mean for the criticism of the time? To what extent was it used to designate a form of transnational criminal fiction? Can the forgotten history of the French genesis of this famous critical appellation tell us about the identity and international dimension of film noir? From the you can find the smartest options.

Anglo-Saxon researchers

Since the early 1990s, certain Anglo-Saxon researchers have nevertheless undertaken to dissociate the genre of Hollywood, by looking at the European ramifications and in particular French and German of American film noir. Charles O’Brien has thus shown that the term “film noir” was initially used by French critics, not in 1946 but before the Second World War, and to speak of a set of French films, before being reoriented after the war to designate only Hollywood production (O’Brien, 1996). For her part, Ginette Vincendeau emphasized the cultural hybridity of these pre-war French films noir, emphasizing how much they had benefited from the contribution of German filmmakers and technicians who came to work in the Parisian studios in the 1930s while demonstrating that they had constituted a fundamental antecedent for the constitution of the American film noir.

Knowledge of film

This important work had a definite impact on knowledge of film noir, but most of the works devoted to the genre paradoxically continue to consider it as an ontologically American form. This point of view was, for example, reaffirmed by Alain Silver in 2010 in the introduction to the new revised and enlarged edition of his encyclopedic work, where he explains that his conception of film noir was hasn’t changed since 1979:

With the western film noir shares the distinction of being a specifically American form, this is as true now as it was three decades ago when this book was first published.  It is a reflection of certain American cultural concerns in a filmic form. In short, it is a unique example of an entirely American film style 2.

Studies on the European origins of film noir also remain little known, if not unknown, within French research, which explains why this generic phenomenon is still widely perceived there as purely American. In the work she devoted to Jean-Pierre Melville, Denitza Bantcheva writes for example:

Everyone is aware that the film noir is above all American: indisputably, the great classics of the genre come from a specific national culture where it could have taken a significant place before exerting a significant influence on European and other cinematography.

It is obviously not disputable that American films noir are deeply rooted in American culture as well as in the history of the United States, and that they could have had a significant impact on other cinematography. However, what “nobody ignores” on the geographical and cultural boundaries of the genre actually conceals a forgotten story, considerably more complex, which has so far only been outlined, and whose characteristic remains to emerge. more notable, namely its international dimension: not only was the term “film noir” used in connection with French cinema before the genre became the paragon of classic American cinema, but it was initially used by French critics to designate films relating to a cosmopolitan film form.

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