Boundary Crossing and the Construction of Cinematic Genre

  • Steffen Hantke


BOUNDARY CROSSING AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF CINEMATIC GENRE: FILM NOIR AS "DEFERRED ACTION" TheĀ Frame-Up: Theoretical ConsiderationsIn recent years, critical consensus in cinema studies has begun to coalesce around the idea that, in a sense, there never was such a thing as film noir. Thomas Elsaesser, for example, comes to this conclusion after examining what might be called one of the foundational myths of film noir, the "connection between German Expressionist cinema and American film noir" (Elsaesser: 420). (1) Ever since this story about noir's origins has solidified into one of the "commonplaces of film history," Elsaesser argues, it has become difficult to see film noir for what it really is, "an imaginary entity whose meaning resides in a set of shifting signifiers" (Elsaesser: 420). Following a critical rather than a cinematic tradition, he traces the consolidation of the genre's identity back to the intervention of German exiles like...