Because of the powerful and well-established tradition of crime films in British cinema, the vast majority of British neo-noirs are variations of the crime thriller, differentiated from more conventional films by their highly wrought visual style, an emphasis on moral ambiguity and psychological complexity, and an often deliberate blurring of the boundaries between reality and fantasy, subjectivity
This book aims to provide an overview of the history and development of film noir and neo-noir in five major European cinemas, France, Britain, Germany, Spain and Italy, written by leading authorities in their respective fields. It contains a bibliography and extensive filmography. The book describes the distinctiveness of film noir or neo-noir within its respective national cinema at particular moments, but also discusses its interaction with American film noir and neo-noir. It commences with a reflection on the significant similarities and differences that emerge in these accounts of the various European film noirs, and on the nature of this dialogue, which suggests the need to understand film noir as a transnational cultural phenomenon. The problems of defining film noir and the reasons why it has almost always been regarded solely as an American form are discussed. Because British film noir had never received critical recognition, Andrew Spicer argues that British neo-noir had to reinvent itself anew, with little, if any, explicit continuity with its predecessors. The book also explores the changes in the French polar after 1968: the paranoia of the political thriller and the violence of the postmodern and naturalistic thriller. That new noir sensibility is different enough, and dark enough, from what preceded it, for us to call it 'hyper-noir'. British neo-noirs are highly intertextual and allusive, both thematically and visually. The book also discusses German neo-noir, Spanish film noir and neo-noir, and the Italian film noir.
Spicer argues that British neo-noir had to reinvent itself anew, with little, if any, explicit continuity with its predecessors. British neonoirs are highly intertextual and allusive, but – with the exception of a period in the 1980s when the influence of European art cinema was strong – drawing upon American noir, the cinema that is known to British filmmakers and their audiences. However, the key noirs, including Get
Neil Jordan’s Mona Lisa (1987), that I Want You most potently recalls. In a recent study, Andrew Spicer has summed up astutely the defining characteristics of British ‘neo-noirs’ in a way that is wholly apposite in relation to I Want You : the vast majority of British neo-noirs are variations of the crime thriller, differentiated from more conventional
’, p. 149. 10 Alexander, Britain’s New Towns, p. 8. 11 Alexander, Britain’s New Towns, p. 72. 12 Saint, ‘The New Towns’, p. 147. 13 Alexander, Britain’s New Towns, p. 102. 14 Sandbrook, State of Emergency, p. 339. 15 Short, Imagined Country: Environment, Culture and Society, p. 50. 16 Short, Imagined Country: Environment, Culture and Society, p. 52. 17 Matless, Landscape and Englishness, p. 34. 18 Alexander, Britain’s New Towns, p. 8. 19 Alexander, Britain’s New Towns, p. 132. 20 Spicer, ‘British Neo-Noir’, p. 117. 21 Newman, ‘Psycho-thriller, qu’est-ce que c