Rhetorical punctuation and noir films

February 13, 2007 § Leave a comment

Detour (1945)

A gripping noir film, talkative at times and a bit unconvincing in the depiction of Roberts’ emprisonment by Vera, but gripping nonetheless. Noir films replace love or power as the driving forces of tragedy, and replace it with the more democratic force of money. Instead of kings, bums and outcasts. Instead of Fate, greenbacks. But the tragic incapacity of its characters to break through, “to crash” as High Sierra‘s Roy Earle say it, is more poignant and just as powerful. Bums who want money, can’t think of nothing else, and will never get it, we’re sure. Their tragic flaw ? Some kind of naive sentimentality, some sort of belief that there is love, that with or without money the world will be theirs someday. That maddening belief, a romantic left-over, pushes them deeper into situation where money would be required, and the more they need it, the less they’ll have it. And thus popular, down-to-earth objects, a car, a telephone, a cigarette or an empty liquor bottle, a hat, a shrunken overcoat, a drugstore, those familiar objects of America, are transformed into tragic signs, figures of a fate bigger than the hero. Detour in its simple straighforward way gives a good example of this modern, regular tragedy.
a coffee mug ’twas all because of a coffee mug !
a juke-box detour4.png
detour5.png or a car…

But because familiar objects are so overpowering on the screen, doesn’t mean that a little rhetorical punctuation is not in order here and there, as in this change of light:


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