The Popular Culture of Depression-Era Films in Both the US and UK
The film is a popular medium for conveying messages across many disciplines, and therefore the use of film is widespread throughout the educational system. Film teaching techniques are continuously evolving and being refined, and are now being applied to a much wider range of students and settings than was once the case. The benefits of film for teaching are numerous and include the use of film to capture and preserve the students’ imagination and awareness as they learn. A great film lesson should encourage the involvement and active involvement of the audience. This can only be achieved if effective techniques and models for successful film presentations are being introduced and practiced.
Post-war American films which feature the ‘noir’ look and feel are particularly well suited to the classroom, as they tend to provide a dark, pessimistic view of life. In post-war America, anti-social behaviour is rife, and films which utilise this style and cast a dark, sinister, yet funny eye on life are particularly valuable. The noir style was originally pioneered by German filmmakers, who combined elements of horror and comedy to provide an anti-social commentary on modern life. The post-war American noir films are perhaps best known for their depiction of urban crime and the darker themes associated with urban life in America in general. Some films which feature the noir style include Good Times, Meet the Parents, and Jaws. The popularity of post-war American films has also led to the application of many of these techniques to the UK film industry, and a similar aesthetic has subsequently pervaded British cinema.
Film teaching experts have noted that the success of film noir films in the UK may relate not so much to the style of storytelling, but more to the appeal of the characters and the plot. These stories deal with loss, anger, nostalgia, revenge, and the difficulty of life in modern America, as shown through the story lines. For this reason, some film noir students find the study of film history very interesting. While the US has long been regarded as the land of the easy-going screw-up, the UK has long been said to be the home of hard-boiled fiction; this view is not necessarily unfair.