One of our favourite Curious Minds instructors Geoff Pevere returns to illuminate the incredible power of film noir: it may have been dark and dangerous, but it was also seductive and irresistible. It took the French to notice that something sinister was happening in American movies after World War II. A tone and style had emerged, creeping up on the cheery disposition of the Dream Factory like a nightmare. It was called film noir, and it featured protagonists who were damaged, desperate and trapped in a world from which there was no escape. The genre proved one of the most enduring and influential phenomena in movie history, and its shadow fell around the world and across the decades. This is its story.
This lecture series is presented by film writer Geoff Pevere, who has been writing, teaching and broadcasting about movies, media and popular culture for more than 30 years. A former film critic with The Toronto Star and regular contributor to The Globe and Mail, he runs thebigshadow.com, a website devoted to the depiction of crime in pop culture.
Doors will open one hour before the first class. Registrants will receive supplementary materials in advance of their first class.
Tuesdays, January 17 - February 21, 10:00 a.m. to noon
January 17: The Shadows Emerge: Origins of Film Noir
In Germany, the style called Expressionism rejects objective reality in favour of subjective suggestiveness. It absorbs Freud, post WWI trauma, existential uncertainty and innovative new film technologies to pave the way for a new kind of movie. And it creeps toward Hollywood.
January 24: The Golden Age of Darkness
Within a couple of years following WWII, film noir enters its golden era. Dozens of films are made that bear its trademark preoccupations, stylistic eccentricities and hard-boiled tone. There will be no turning back after this: once it took root and blossomed in the postwar era, film noir was here to stay.
January 31: Femme Fatale: Gender and Noir
No other popular American movie form had a more complex and nuanced understanding of gender, sexuality and romantic obsession than film noir, and no other genre generated such a formidable cast of women characters. If the men in noir were customarily defined by a lack of power, it was women who claimed it in spades.
February 7: The Long Shadow: Neo-Noir
Styles changed, studios fell and history marched on. But noir lingered in the shadows, just waiting for the right moment to re-emerge. Which it did, at first sporadically during the '60s, and then with a mounting vengeance during the '70s, '80s and '90s.
February 14: Dark World: Noir Around the World
Since it crept into Hollywood from the outside, it's only logical that it crept back out and seeped into movies made around the world. Which made sense: anywhere there was cause for anxiety about surviving in an increasingly complex, hostile and mysterious world, film noir flourished. And that was everywhere.
February 21: Shadow Box: Noir and TV
You don't have to leave home to find the shadows. They'll find you: all you have to do is turn on your TV. Since the 1950s, when television presented such a threat the movie industry it feared for its life, film noir infiltrated the medium and gave Leave it to Beaver a run for its happy, suburban-minted money. Once it moved it, it never left. Today noir on TV is the crown jewel of the new golden age.