FILM NOIR CONTEXTS
The author in this essay analyzes the phenomenon of American film noir, emphasizing the external, off-film contexts that influenced Hollywood in the forties. Syska describes political, ideological, social and cultural situation in this decade and shows how particular circumstances affected some films noir. Author does not limit his description to detective or gangster stories but also compares these classical noir films to other genres of the forties (e.g. war films, dramas, melodramas, spy films). Syska in first paragraphs defines phenomenon of film noir and describes its genealogy, as well as stresses its overgenre character. Afterwards author analyzes several crucial contexts of Hollywood films in the forties. He emphasizes literature background and shows differences between classical Victorian detective stories and modern American books. Later Syska describes the influence of World War II (Holocaust, feelings of German immigrants in USA, deep anxiety over Japan invasion) on Hollywood films. He also stresses the fear caused by nuclear weapon and communism expansion. Afterwards, the author writes about aesthetical context of American noir, highlighting the influence of German expressionism, French poetic realism, Italian neorealism as well as technical development in lighting and camera equipment. Next part of the essay is focused on psychoanalysis, existentialism and Marxism which affected the hopeless atmosphere of American noir and changed the conception of evil, undermined idea of American Dream and emphasized the role of coincidence. Finally, Syska describes the condition of Hollywood film companies and independent enterprises (e.g. Mark Hellinger films). Last paragraphs are focused on the end of classical film noir in the fifties and reinterpretation of it in counter-culture period.