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Film noir, by translation alone, means dark film, and by that measurement Sunset Boulevard certainly fits the genre. A gloomy story that follows a jaded and sarcastic protagonist, Joe Gillis from his initial dire circumstances to his untimely death, Sunset Blvd. earns the description “dark” several times over. But there is more to film noir than crushingly depressing plotlines. There are common motifs and icons that are found in most film noirs, such as crime, dark alleys, guns and alcohol. Deeper than this, film noir features certain visual elements, character archetypes, and themes that create a unique style of film. Although some have argued that Sunset Blvd. fails to represent some of these elements, it has become known as one of the most iconic film noirs ever made. Sunset Boulevard (1950), written and directed by Billy Wilder exemplifies the film noir style through its use of visual elements (lighting, shots and angles), memorable characters, themes and overall structure of the film.
First and foremost, film noir refers to the visual style of a picture. The imagery of film noi…