August 17, 2015

The Stylistic Elements of Film Noir, Explained In One Handy Infographic

Film noir may be one of the most misunderstood genres of film out there.

These days, it seems like anything that is even vaguely dark and moody gets labelled as noir, even though it may have very little in common with the classic films that have come to define the genre. But that begs the question, what is it that actually defines noir? In a epic infographic from the BFIAdam Frost and designer Melanie Patrick break down the story elements and stylistic attributes that make noir such an essential and intriguing part of American cinema history. And as an added bonus, they even created a rubric in order to score the greatest noir films ever made and determine which one is the "noir-est" of all. Check it out:

BFI Film Noir Infographic

By these standards, film noir isn't necessarily something that exists in the modern filmmaking landscape (although the latest season of True Detective checks off a lot of boxes). But in a lot of ways, that's a good thing. Noir films, as they're defined here, are simply a relic of a different time, something that we study and analyze when we're learning about film history and style. Of course, many great contemporary directors like Scorsese and the Coen brothers have taken cues from these films and weaved the stylistic attributes into their own work. And that's what makes noir so fascinating. It may be genre past its prime, but studying it can inform your own understanding of film style and help you create works that are truly unique.

What are your favorite noir films, and how have they influenced your own style of filmmaking? Let us know down in the comments!     

Your Comment


Love this a whole lot. Film noir is very near and dear to my heart. Also, shameless self-promotion of my own film noir project because I'm gonna be that guy:

August 18, 2015 at 2:05AM, Edited August 18, 2:05AM


Checked out your film and thought it was interesting how it had a similar starting point but very different ending to my film. Maybe you want to take a look, cuz I'm also the self promoting type.

August 18, 2015 at 2:57AM


You shameless me stuff to watch...

I kid. I'll check these out. I got really into watching noir for a bit a few years ago.

August 18, 2015 at 4:15PM

Anne Le Sauvage
Ethusiastic amateur editor

Awesome post!

August 18, 2015 at 1:52PM


One of my favorite "modern" noir films, "The Man Who Wasn't There."

August 18, 2015 at 7:10PM, Edited August 18, 7:11PM

Rob Reiter
Commander Of The Realm

Their Love Was a Flame that Destoryed!??
...otherwise a real keeper.

August 21, 2015 at 11:07PM

Joseph Lippencott
Instrument Designer/Fabricator