Scattered City - A Noir Film

January 14, 2015

I was able to take a Film Noir class in college and ever since then I’ve been captivated by it. It’s such an interesting genre since one of its most defining characteristics is style, which isn’t true of other film categories. It’s also defined by a certain distrust and cynicism that seemed to grow in the wake of World War Two, as it was made by men and women who witnessed the horror of what this world had to offer. I think that’s one of the reasons you see the genre have a slight re-birth in the 1970s, another cynical post-war period, with films like Chinatown and Taxi Driver.

While certain wars may have contributed to my own cynicism, it was Hurricane Katrina that made me feel the angst that is so necessary for Noir. But I didn’t want to tell a story about anger, instead I wanted to tell a story about a father looking for his daughter. Being a Noir he can’t find her in the end because that would be too hopeful, but in a way he keeps looking for her in every missing person he’s asked to track down. He effectively takes on the role of a father for others, searching for those that have gone missing and doing everything he can to send them back home.

Certainly my own belief in a God who never stops seeking his children was part of the influence for the character and the story. And while the film may not be overtly hopeful I do hold out hope that all of God’s children will be brought home and that the burdens of cynicism and bitterness will be washed away when that happens. I think Christians should be people who long for the fairy tale but recognize that the world we live in is more like a Film Noir.

Matthew Aughtry is a filmmaker and storyteller. He attends Fuller Seminary where he is a Brehm Scholar.
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