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Cinematicity in Media History$
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Jeffrey Geiger and Karin Littau

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748676118

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.001.0001

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. Invisible Cities, Visible Cinema: Illuminating Shadows in Late Film Noir

. Invisible Cities, Visible Cinema: Illuminating Shadows in Late Film Noir

Chapter:
(p.157) Chapter 9. Invisible Cities, Visible Cinema: Illuminating Shadows in Late Film Noir
Source:
Cinematicity in Media History
Author(s):

Tom Gunning

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748676118.003.0010

This chapter, written by Tom Gunning, pursues the relentless immersion, at street level, of the urbanite in a city doubly composed of the seen and unseen, image and shadow. Making evident what the city shares with the uneasy world-view of film noir, Gunning’s essay casts light on the ways in which experiences of urban culture, modernity, and the cinema are inextricably linked. This brings into play another aspect of cinematicity, namely that the city from the nineteenth century onwards had become what Gunning calls a ‘hyper-visual zone’ whose inhabitants were bombarded by an array of visual stimuli and partial impressions, as if preparing them for the onslaught of the moving pictures themselves. Beneath the visible facade of the city, as the detective figure that emerged in the literature of the period makes abundantly clear, also however lurk dark corners, dangerous places, and invisible threats. It is here, Gunning argues, that the police’s bull’s eye lantern and the flash of the journalist’s camera make visible what was invisible.

Keywords:   Film noir, Aerial views, Underworld, Urbanization, Crime film, City cinema, Modernity

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