A good definition of film noir was given by Borde and Chaumeton (1955), who refer to film noir as a purely affective phenomenon in the sense that it disturbs viewers, disorients them and produces a profound uneasiness. And it does this by whatever means possible. The historical nature of film noir derives, in large part, from its attempts to disturb. Film noir succeeded in creating a malaise in its audiences by refusing the stylistic and thematic conventions of classical Hollywood cinema. That is, noir arose in the 1940s as a response to and rejection of 1930s Hollywood cinema. In certain films, this refusal of 1930s cinema takes the form of a single scene or shot that violates the norm, such as the tight close-up of an unidentified hand firing a gun at Sam Spade's partner, Archer, near the beginning of The Maltese Falcon movie in 1941 (Belton, 2005).
The majority of those who explored the darker reaches of the noir experience were American, born and bred. The source material for the bulk of noir narratives came from the underworld of American pulp fiction. Nearly twenty per cent of the film noirs made between 1941 and 1948 were adaptations of hard-boiled novels written by American authors. Film noir deals with a uniquely American experience of wartime and post-war despair and alienation as a disoriented America readjust to a new social and political reality.
Film noir was discovered and christened in postwar France. In 1945, after the Allies liberated Paris, France, an enormous backlog of American films, which had been made during the war but had not been seen in Nazi-controlled territories like France due to the ban made by Germans, reached French screens. A succession of extremely downbeat films is shown in France. This cycle began with a Hammett detective film entitled Maltese Falcon (Huston, 1941). It was an observed that in this cycle of films has subversive strain of behavioral deviance in American films, which at this time became dominated by crime, corruption, cruelty, and an apparent unhealthy interest in the erotic. The French believed then that American film had suddenly turned grimmer, bleaker, and blacker.
II. Analysis of the Movies "Maltese Falcon" and "Basic Instinct 2" as Film Noirs
The adjective "noir" aptly conveys not only the films' antecedents in the "romans noirs" or black novels but also the essential nature of experience that audiences have in watching the films. These films unsettled audiences. Through their violation of the traditional narrative and stylistic practices of classical Hollywood cinema that oriented and stabilized spectators, these films created an uncomfortable and disturbing malaise or anxiety in their viewers.
Film noir is a specific emotional reaction produced by certain films in an audience. In the "Maltese Falcon" and "Basic Instinct 2: Risk Addiction", film noirs can be seen as a purely affective phenomenon such that it produces some emotional responses in people. Not every film noir needs to be noir from start to finish. It needs only to be noir for a moment or two. It requires only a single character, situation or scene that is noir to produce the disturbance or the disorientation that is necessary to give the audience an unsettling twist or distressing jolt.