‘I can’t sell you hope when there isn’t any.’

Rural noir. Noir is ‘fundamentally nocturnal’, writes Oliver Harris, but in They Live By Night (Nicholas Ray, 1948), the city is seen in the daylight. It is the rural spaces, those close to nature that should signify peace, earthliness, purity, that are represented only in darkness. The open spaces here do not signify freedom but uncertainty and inevitable destruction. The open pathway leading Bowie (Farley Granger) to farewell his wife leaves him stripped bare as target to the unseen killers. A retreat to this landscape was, and always will be, fraught with deadly consequence. In noir they are always enveloped in danger, even when they are surrounded by nothing, by emptiness, by pure and (visibly) untarnished space. Bell is right: there is no place left to go.


About cinemelo

I love to write about film and comment on culture. Hopefully providing insight and interesting thoughts for fellow cultural itinerants.
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