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International Noir$
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Homer B. Pettey and R. Barton Palmer

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748691104

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691104.001.0001

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Nordic Noir and Neo-Noir:

Nordic Noir and Neo-Noir:

The Human Criminal

Chapter:
(p.155) 7. Nordic Noir and Neo-Noir
Source:
International Noir
Author(s):

Andrew Nestingen

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9780748691104.003.0008

The term ‘Nordic noir’ has gained currency as the catchall term for crime fiction on page, screen, and television from Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. While film noir is a minor tradition in Nordic cinema, neo-noir has come to figure prominently in Nordic cinema. All the Nordic cinemas (except Iceland) produced films during the 1940s and 1950, which scholars and critics would later come to see as films noir. Since the 1990s, neo-noir has figured prominently in Nordic cinema, often as part of films inspired by, or adapted from, Nordic crime fiction. Nordic crime fiction itself has come to be known as ‘Nordic noir,’ particularly in UK usage. In the Nordic noir universe, criminals tend to be humanized, and often childhood experience or a traumatic event is used to gloss their criminality. The doomed characters of Nordic noir thus have their fates shaped by social forces, in a way somewhat reminiscent of the characters in the French poetic realist films of the 1930s. Their fates are not a matter of chance, pathology, or pursuit of anti-social pleasure. Such a worldview also resonates with the social-democratic outlook, which dominated political life in the Nordic countries from in the 1930s to the 1980s – the war years, excepted. The noir legacy is also relevant for its impact on auteur filmmakers, notably Lars von Trier and Aki Kaurismäki, who draw on classical noir, as well as the poetic realist films, to give their films a sometimes overt, sometimes subtle, neo-noir quality.

Keywords:   Nordic Noir, Scandinavian Cinema, Noir Cinema, Swedish Film, Finnish Films, Neo-Noir

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