Presenter Information

Iris Matulevich, Gonzaga University

Session Number

SS3

Location

Weyerhaeuser 304

Abstract Number

SS3-c

Abstract

Film noir, a film genre characterized by darkness, femmes fatales, private detectives, and the inversion of traditional values, emerged in America in the 1940s-1950s. At the same time, a religious fervor was building in the United States. Why did a genre defined by dark crime and moral ambiguity hit its stride in the U.S. during a surge of Christianity? I look at three different theories about film noir’s rise in America and analyze them alongside historical evidence in order to prove the simultaneous rise of noir and Christianity was not as odd as it seems. The film noir movement arose because the films were relatable to anxious audiences, a changing political landscape caused a desire for a new definition of morality, and film noir aligned with Protestantism’s search for redemption. The seemingly unlikely pairing of noir and Christianity shows the complicated emotional and political landscape that was post-WWII America.

COinS
 
Apr 23rd, 9:00 AM Apr 23rd, 10:30 AM

The Stuff that American Dreams are Made of: Why the Film Noir Genre Emerged in the Midst of Religious Fervor in Postwar America

Weyerhaeuser 304

Film noir, a film genre characterized by darkness, femmes fatales, private detectives, and the inversion of traditional values, emerged in America in the 1940s-1950s. At the same time, a religious fervor was building in the United States. Why did a genre defined by dark crime and moral ambiguity hit its stride in the U.S. during a surge of Christianity? I look at three different theories about film noir’s rise in America and analyze them alongside historical evidence in order to prove the simultaneous rise of noir and Christianity was not as odd as it seems. The film noir movement arose because the films were relatable to anxious audiences, a changing political landscape caused a desire for a new definition of morality, and film noir aligned with Protestantism’s search for redemption. The seemingly unlikely pairing of noir and Christianity shows the complicated emotional and political landscape that was post-WWII America.