|what is wrong with this
it looks as if everything has gone kind of crazy.
mysterious shadows slice the world into jagged fragments
whether it's day or night. meanwhile, in the corners of the room, blackness itself
collects in thick pools like congealing blood.
the walls are closing in
like a big steel trap snapping shut in slow motion.
paranoia and dread hang heavily in the air...
You've just entered the world of film noir,
where nothing is what it seems,
and no one can be trusted.
You are invited to prowl around the room above
and see what you can find.
NOTE: Only about half of the items in
The Dark Room currently have completed detail pages associated with them.
Construction is slated for completion by September, 1999. Check back for the Grand
There are fifteen noir archetypes (seventeen if you count
doubles) represented in The Dark Room.
Each one explains a small piece of the riddle,
a fragment of the crazy jigsaw puzzle that is film noir.
When you spot one, click on it and you'll be taken to a place where
the mysteries behind these cryptic symbols will be revealed. You'll find out just
how each of them contributes to the shadowy aesthetics, murky morality, unforseen
pitfalls, and bitter twists of fate that are among the hallmarks of this sinister corner
of the cinema.
You'll also find classic stills that illustrate how these key
elements -- objects and artifacts, character types, visual motifs, recurring themes and
situations -- figure into some of the greatest films noir. And you'll even
discover the secret origins of the enigmatic items in The Dark Room itself, all of which
were pinched (in the dead of night) from various movies of the '30s, '40s, and '50s
(most, though not all, of them noir).
Remember: film noir is not a genre, and is not
constricted by genre. Detective movies, gangster pictures, science-fiction films,
even westerns take place in noir territory. Likewise, it's more than just a
visual style, or a whodunnit spiked with hard-boiled attitude. Film noir is
an aesthetic, a cynical and disturbing way of looking at the repressed nightmare lurking
beneath the post-war American Dream.
And after you've sifted through all the clues, maybe you can help me
piece together the answer to that troubling question at the top of this page:
What is going on in The Dark Room? Who is betraying whom, and why?
What does the composition of the shot tell you about the dynamics of the situation?
I came up with a theory or two while I was building the room, but I'd really love to hear your
E-mail your twisted scenario to me at
and I'll post the most intriguing ones right here in this noir section.
P.S. Because it was, after all, the French who
recognized and gave a name to American film noir (literally "black" or
"dark" film), I decided to name The Dark Room (aka La Chambre Noir) after one of
the last films by the late Cahiers du Cinema critic-turned-auteur,
Francois Truffaut. In The Green Room (or La Chambre Verte), Truffaut
himself plays a man who morbidly devotes himself to keeping a shrine for the dead.
You figure it out.
Now it's time to explore The Dark Room...
Oh yes, and if you've already spent some time in the room and
are looking to leave, you may by now have noticed something rather odd.
The Dark Room has no door.
In other words, there's no way out.
Or as our French friend Jean-Paul Sartre put it, "no
For you, however, there is one possibility of escape...