This Friday is the next talk in the PCMS series:
Patrick Keating (Trinity University)
“Illuminated Space: Electricity, Modernity, and Film Noir”
March 16, 2012
Temple University Center City (TUCC), 1515 Market Street
Although film noir is famous for its shadows, the style offers a remarkably wide range of lighting effects. In some noirs, the flatly lit office building is just as important as the dimly lit alley, and the warm glow of the living room can be just as fateful as the darkened hallway. This talk reconsiders noir lighting in films such as Call Northside 777, The Asphalt Jungle, and The Sweet Smell of Success. In particular, Keating proposes that an important context for noir lighting is the increasing industrialization of electric light during the middle decades of the twentieth century. Just as the electricity industry was developing a narrative of progress to both explain and promote the expansion of light over these years, the film noir was using a combination of lights and shadows to describe and criticize that expansion.
Patrick Keating is an assistant professor of Communication at Trinity University in San Antonio, where he teaches courses in film studies and video production. He is the author of Hollywood Lighting From the Silent Era to Film Noir, published by Columbia University Press, which was selected by the Society of Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) as the Best First Book in 2011. Recently, he was awarded an Academy Film Scholars grant to support his research on the relationship between camera movement and the representation of modern spaces in Hollywood cinema.