FATALISM IN AMERICAN FILM NOIR PDF

Download A drifter with no name and no past, driven purely by desire, is convinced by a beautiful woman to murder her husband. A hard-drinking detective down on his luck becomes involved with a gang of criminals in pursuit of a priceless artifact. The stories are at once romantic, pessimistic, filled with anxiety and a sense of alienation, and they define the essence of film noir. Noir emerged as a prominent American film genre in the early s, distinguishable by its use of unusual lighting, sinister plots, mysterious characters, and dark themes.

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In this book Robert Pippin argues that many of these films also raise distinctly philosophical questions. Where most Hollywood films of that era featured reflective individuals living with purpose, taking action and effecting desired consequences, the typical noir protagonist deliberates and plans, only to be confronted by the irrelevance of such deliberation and by results that contrast sharply, often tragically, with his or her intentions or true commitments.

Pippin shows how this terrible disconnect sheds light on one of the central issues in modern philosophy--the nature of human agency. How do we distinguish what people do from what merely happens to them?

Hot on the heels of his award-winning book about Westerns, this study of film noir tells the other side of the story, the bleaker, more pessimistic side of the great age of American cinema.

Seamlessly blending philosophy, history, and film analysis, it convincingly and powerfully suggests that the crucial function of film noir is to offer a worked-out picture of what life would look like were we to suspect that our most important decisions carry no real weight. With this stunning achievement, Pippin has reconfirmed his position as one of the most important critics of film writing today. Joshua Landy, Stanford University, coeditor of The Re-Enchantment of the World: Secular Magic in a Rational Age In Fatalism in American Film Noir, Robert Pippin examines popular movies from a philosophical perspective and does not treat them merely as an illustration of ideas but as a way of putting the ideas to the test of concrete cinematic experience.

He looks at them thoughtfully and sensitively both as an inquisitive philosopher and as an attentive film critic. An original and illuminating contribution to both philosophy and film studies. Pippin demonstrates that, far from affirming fatalism, many noir films problematize the view that modern life is lived under the sign of doom. Radical uncertainty is where these films take readers and mostly leave them.

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Fatalism in American Film Noir

In this book Robert Pippin argues that many of these films also raise distinctly philosophical questions. Where most Hollywood films of that era featured reflective individuals living with purpose, taking action and effecting desired consequences, the typical noir protagonist deliberates and plans, only to be confronted by the irrelevance of such deliberation and by results that contrast sharply, often tragically, with his or her intentions or true commitments. Pippin shows how this terrible disconnect sheds light on one of the central issues in modern philosophy--the nature of human agency. How do we distinguish what people do from what merely happens to them? Hot on the heels of his award-winning book about Westerns, this study of film noir tells the other side of the story, the bleaker, more pessimistic side of the great age of American cinema. Seamlessly blending philosophy, history, and film analysis, it convincingly and powerfully suggests that the crucial function of film noir is to offer a worked-out picture of what life would look like were we to suspect that our most important decisions carry no real weight.

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2013.06.17

I had to watch a lot just to try to keep up with everyone else in the philosophy department, both grad students and faculty, who had an overwhelming knowledge of movies. Zed organized a screening of North by I watched a lot of movies in grad school. Zed organized a screening of North by Northwest with special guest commentator Ted Cohen. I went to screenings for a class on Ophuls that Miriam Hansen taught, I watched all the Westerns that Pippin screened in Doc Films that led to his Westerns book, and I watched both The Lady from Shanghai and Out of the Past in the big lecture theater in the Social Science building at Chicago when Pippin was screening them for this book. I think Jay loaned me his copy of Scarlet Street. Doc Films had incredible series that ran all the time--the best being the Michael Mann series that ran in my 8th and final year saw Thief, The Keep, and Heat all on the big screen. The boy tending the gas station is a deaf-mute and we learn quickly that Jeff alone in the town can understand sign language, can hear by seeing, in other words, instead of what we will learn to suspect people in the town do, see only what they hear.

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