Many critics argue as to whether noir is a genre or a sub-genre. As Martin Scorcese says in one his documentaries, noir is a sub-genre of drama and doesn’t have any unique definition. Filmmakers like him say that term noir is just a term that is used to indicate certain stylistic elements which are common in the movies of 1940s and 1950s.
In the wake of this dilemma among the critics, this essay puts forward a hypothesis that identifies itself with the claim of many film critics that it a noir movie. In this essay, the movie shall be tested against the framework of conventional noir movie making and an analysis shall be made about the genre of the movie. The analysis shall be comprehensive and include detailed examples from the movie and also various secondary sources of information.
Sunset Boulevard is widely regarded as a cult movie and one of the epic movies belonging to the noir genre. First of all, it is important to establish what is a noir genre and how did it develop in Hollywood. During the 1930s many artists, directors, and composers were ousted from Germany by Hitler. These people came to Hollywood and started to work there. The political and social situation of Germany instilled in them a sense of cynicism.
It is a known fact that the German government at that time was involved in the systematic killing of millions of people. This cynicism and pessimism was carried forward and brought to Hollywood. The German Expressionist cinema, when combined with the Hollywood’s fascination with crime, created a genre called noir. This term was not used at that time but was later coined by critics in the 1970s to describe a kind of films that were made in the 1940s and 1950s.