Drawing Inspiration from Film and Fashion

For my last round of blogging, I wanted to depart a little from what we’ve been posting to something a little off the beaten path. A little while ago I was reading in the Wall Street Journal’s Marketplace section about one of my favorite brands, French Connection, and their launch of a new advertising campaign. The article caught my attention for three reasons 1. I love fashion 2. I love advertising as I am a marketing major and 3. the campaign was entirely inspired by film noir! I know we ventured very far since those noir days (and sorry for going back to there) but I thought this was really cool and wanted to share. The campaign involves both print and commercial advertisements (mostly for international markets so we may not even see them here in the US, and hence the foreign accents on the commercial). Take a look:

French Connection ‘The Woman’ from Fashion Copious on Vimeo.

French Connection ‘The Man’ from Fashion Copious on Vimeo.

As you can see, the commercials are a little odd (definitely seem fit more for the European market than the American market). But I think it’s so great that they drew inspiration from film noir. First of all, “the woman” and “the man” reminds me (and probably deliberately so) of the “femme fatale” and the “hero,” the stock characters of the noir film. The black and white filming of them is clearly noir related, as is the seductive (for the woman) and mysterious (for the man) feel of the commercials. I love when advertisements get creative and wacky, as this is, drawing on the seriousness of noir but with humor (“look at his heart. Or rather look at his shirt…he wears not sequins. He knows not what sequins is”). This also reminds me and gives me a little inspiration for our final project, for being influenced by something, such as in this case a film technique/genre, doesn’t mean copying it entirely, but it means taking aspects of the technique and twisting them and making them your own, thereby creating a whole new entity, and not simply a recreation of something that already exists.

The Meaning of Zombies in Popular Culture

After being immersed in a zombie world these past couple of weeks, I started to think a bit about zombies in popular culture, that is outside of movies obviously. Honestly, I never really paid much attention to zombies in television, books, art, music; but then I remembered this Cranberries song from the 90’s

The song is about the Troubles in northern Ireland ( as the band is Irish) that existed from the 60’s to the late 90’s, which was basically a political and military conflict between the country’s Protestants and Christians. The song was one of the band’s most popular, topping the charts, and it’s message resonated with their native Ireland.

I think this music video is very telling of both the influence of zombies into modern popular culture and on the principles that zombies represent. The band decided to name their hit song after the famed ghouls because they portray the militants in Ireland, being told to patrol violently and following orders without regard for humanity. In this way, zombies often come to mind when thinking of people blindly doing things, whether violent, like Nazis, or whether innocently, like following the trends of consumer culture (such as the representation of the mall in Romero’s Dawn of the Dead). I thought this was really interesting to see how zombies in America have evolved from being simply flesh-eating monsters to entire symbols of mindless following.

The Timelessness of a Classic

The term classic, by definition, implies its longevity and its everlasting mark on culture and society. I agree with this statement, and I thoroughly enjoy a good Austen novel or Hitchcock film. But after watching the handful of assigned, classic movies thus far, I can’t help but strongly feel the generation gap. For example, I really liked D.O.A. , and even as a contemporary viewer with a generation Y-er lack of patience, the movie kept my attention. But there were certain parts where I found myself laughing at the dramatic shots, or the way Paula, Frank’s girlfriend, says “I’m gonna get a permanent to make myself all pretty for you.” Or, my favorite line of the movie, “If I wear a man, I’d  punch your dirty face in,” spoken by Marla Rakubian, the infamous “femme fatale.” (It’s funny how she can be one of the movies villains but can’t punch a man). Yes, after reading Schrader on Film Noir I have a deeper understanding of the style-genre-time period (whatever it may be) and the themes- crime, psychosis, murder, backstabbing, etc. of Film Noir transcend time, but I must admit there is an aspect of movies made over 50 years ago that is unreachable to the modern audience.

I was doing some research on Film Noir online, as I was curious to see what films today can be classified as such, and I came upon a critic that was bold enough as to characterize one of my favorite movies, Memento, as a current Film Noir. For those that don’t know, Memento, directed by Christopher Nolan, is a modern masterpiece about a man with a memory disorder that is on a quest to find his wife’s killer. The genius of the movie lies not in its plot but in its composition- the scenes work backwards, playing on the audiences’ memories. A second or third viewing of the film is not even sufficient to fully grasp its hints and clues splattered throughout. I would give a spoiler to the film but its too good of a movie to ruin : ) So here’s the trailer for those not familiar.

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/0vS0E9bBSL0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Even from the trailer, you can see there are aspects of the film that are synonymous with Schrader’s definitions of Noir- the dark scene in the beginning, feelings of psychosis (not knowing where he is, his memory loss), even the running around, trying to find the killer, is very similar to the action in D.O.A.  I think classifying Memento as a modern-day Film Noir is a pretty accurate description, and perhaps one that today’s audiences can relate to more easily.

*I really do love old movies! I was just observing that there are really differences in movies made for a contemporary audience. Just putting that out there.