Neon Noir and the Root Influences of Cyberpunk #cyberpunk

OK, file this one under “Adjacent to Cyberpunk Adjacent.” As you likely know, hard boiled detective fiction and film noir served as important influences on cyberpunk. So, that makes understanding noir art an important element in understanding cyberpunk.

While this video is about a sub-genre of noir (that I’d never even heard of), called neon noir, it does a great job of describing film noir in general and its origins. For instance, I was not aware of the direct lineage of film noir and German expressionism. And, how much German expressionism, film noir, and cyberpunk share in mood, theme, and overall sensibility. I’ve been researching how the Dada movement influenced cyberpunk (or at least influenced those who in turn influenced cyberpunk), so I was intrigued to also find a connection with the Dada-adjacent German expressionism.

This video focuses on neon noir as a more contemporary expression of film noir. It mainly analyzes two films that characterize the genre, Michael Mann’s 1981 Thief and Nicolas Winding Refn’s 2001 film, Drive. Like other strains of noir, neon noir is highly-stylized filmmaking that usually features moody, electronic scores, nocturnal urbanism, crime and lurid violence, alienation, moral ambiguity, and existential drama. And, of course, plenty of neon and high-contrast lighting. Isolation, social trauma, psychological storytelling. Yeah, that all sounds pretty cyberpunky to me.

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