In last week’s edition of the AbbyShot Fashion Institute we dipped our (proverbial) toes into the history of cyberpunk, and of course the landmark film in that genre that we couldn’t HELP but discuss is the one and only Blade Runner. That film’s effect on the evolution of cyberpunk is undeniable, though it was also one of the inspiring forces behind another intriguing subgenre: Future Noir.
Future Noir is an uber-stylish subgenre of sci-fi, also known as Tech Noir (stemming from a nightclub name in James Cameron’s original Terminator). It seamlessly melds the thematic elements and visual cues from classic Film Noir along with the technology and storylines of sci-fi. Recent examples of Future Noir include the wildly popular Inception and the not-so-well-received Repo Men. But Future Noir has a long and storied history between landmarks like Blade Runner and Inception, boasting many standout films and styles that have appealed to AbbyShot. Here are just three of our top Future Noir films and their fashion highlights…
“Don’t fight it son. Confess quickly! If you hold out too long you could jeopardize your credit rating.”
Terry Gilliam, famed animator from Monty Python’s Flying Circus, created a version of George Orwell’s bleak novel Nineteen Eighty-Four that combined film noir fashion with Gilliam’s black humour and stunning visual style.
The totalitarian future world that Gilliam creates is a world of government-endorsed fear, lonely grey hallways, and overpowering duct-work, populated entirely by characters wearing clothing that would be right at home in a Humphrey Bogart picture from the 1940’s. And this style is just fine by us. There’s something timeless about classic suits and ties that perfectly matches the timeless theme of this film: Keep fighting for individuality, no matter how long the odds may be.
“When was the last time you remember doing something during the day?”
Released the year before The Matrix, Dark City is a Future Noir mood piece that shared many of the same themes as that more well-known film featuring Neo and Trinity. In it, a man with amnesia wakes up to a city where no one seems to remember the daylight and strange beings control the populace and shift the surroundings every night. Directed by Alex Proyas, most famous for The Crow, this is another film that uses Film Noir wardrobe to create a compelling look and feel, as well as touchstones such as the smoky nightclub where Jennifer Connelly’s character is a popular singer. The classic suits and dark overcoats serve to ground the film even when it goes into fairly wild sci-fi territory in its second half.
“Sometimes, in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.”
Our final film for this post is even newer still: Stephen Spielberg’s take on Future Noir, Minority Report. All the Film Noir elements are here: a down-on-his-luck detective, a crooked police force, a framed man, a woman in trouble… and they all take place in a future world that looks uncomfortably like our own. Only Colin Farrell sports the classic suit-and-tie look, though the simplicity of all the costumes in this film harken back to the enduring visual style of Film Noir. Tom Cruise’s main character, for example, wears a sleek black leather jacket that would fit into any time period. If you haven’t seen this one yet, the scene with the heat-detecting spider robots and the bathtub full of ice is worth the price of admission alone.
We hope you enjoyed this quick tour of a few non-Blade Runner Future Noir classics! What’s your favourite? Feel free to let us know in the Comments below!
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