Medieval noir
Anatomy of a metaphor
in Medieval film
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This chapter argues that certain films with medieval themes and settings, mostly dating from the 1940s to the 1960s, demonstrate a surprising affinity with the themes and techniques associated with film noir. The romanticism of medieval films may be regarded as a virtual antidote to the cynicism and nihilism of film noir. Film theory has also drawn some implicit parallels between medieval films and noir. Medieval historical movies and crime films share a certain generic status in cinematic taxonomies. Film noir historians have always attempted to distinguish between earlier crime films and the unique characteristics of films noir. German expressionism is one of the most widely cited sources for film noir, especially given the exile of so many fugitive film-makers from Nazi Germany in Hollywood. But German expressionist film is also one of the tributaries of high-art medieval movies.


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