What Is Film Noir?

“Double Indemnity”

This infographic from The British Film Institute is a handy, thorough overview of the basic tenets of film noir, a style of post-War American filmmaking that is referred to often but frequently misunderstood. I’m linking to it (after the jump) because, well, I love film noir, but also because it’s such an influential concept that shows up repeatedly in the movies and television and media that we watch, and understanding its fundamentals helps us appreciate the vocabulary that the style uses to signal its intentions.

The graphic is also a really good introduction, for those who aren’t familiar with the genre, to a host of the very best movies ever made; at the bottom there’s a section that charts the “most noir” of all the movies that can be classified as film noir. The winner is, unsurprisingly, director Billy Wilder’s 1944 movie “Double Indemnity.” That masterpiece is a must watch if you haven’t seen it already; if you have and you enjoyed it, there’s a score of similar richly rewarding works in the film noir canon that awaits you.

See the full graphic after the jump.

Darkness Visible: An Infographic of Film Noir