Wilfred Owen’s poetic monologue “Strange Meeting” (1918) presents soldiers reuniting in Hell, ending with the poignant line, “Let us sleep now….” Addie Bundren, the dead mother of Faulkner’s (1941) includes a chapter narrated by a man who’s been murdered. Examples include “Ghost Ship” (1940), with a victim recounting his own murder, and Norman Corwin’s “Untitled” (1944), which reveals the narrator to be a dead soldier.In film, World War II brings forth the prospect of dead servicemen returning to tell their tales.It recurs only twice before he and his now-dead soldier son faintly enter to watch the family welcome their new member, Marcus’s pal Toby.
In such a world style becomes paramount; it is all that separates one from meaninglessness….
(5) This moral ambivalence and relentless cynicism, the overall tone of hopelessness and bleakness is one of the defining features of this class of films.
The noir hero dreads to look ahead, but instead tries to survive by the day, and if unsuccessful at that, he retreats into the past.
Thus film noir’s techniques emphasize loss, nostalgia, lack of clear priorities, insecurity; then submerge these self-doubts in mannerism and style.
During the escape sequence he rapidly introduces each of his comrades.
The line might be taken as Waldo’s dying words spoken offscreen, except that the line is miked far more closely than his speech earlier in the scene, when he’s actually closer to he camera.Guiding spirits (1943) gives us a dead man explaining episodes from his life to an inquisitive official in the afterlife.The more flagrant cases, however, involve dead narrators who recount the entire film we see in voice-over, as in our prototype (1938 play, 1940 film).In its acoustic texture, this unsituated sign-off formally balances the unsituated opening.But it also raises the possibility that the dead Waldo has launched the whole story and now bids Laura farewell from that realm wherein defunct narrators dwell.“I am Matthew Macauley,” says a face superimposed over imagery of radiant clouds. But so much of me is still living that I know now that the end is only the beginning.” This is indeed a beginning, of (1943).Having died in the war, Matthew will guide us back to his hometown and his household’s daily routines.So let’s look at posthumous narrators in the Forties, with some glances at a trio of more recent efforts.As a non-dead and highly reliable narrator, I must warn you of spoilers ahead.The classification and cataloging of items seem to fulfill a basic need in human beings, whether it is vegetable, mineral or animal.It seems that this basic need to analyze and categorize items applies also to objets d’art, including film – and the recognition or dismissal of film noir as a genre has been argued since the term was coined.