I finally got around to seeing Brian De Palma’s Black Dahlia this weekend. I’m not a huge fan of De Palma’s work, over all. He’s incredibly skilled at creating compelling scenes and dense, flavorful atmosphere, but not so great at actually telling a comprehensible story. The complexities of Black Dahlia may have worked perfectly fine in the original source novel, which I’ve never read, but needed to be simplified somewhat to make a comprehensible movie.
However, the movie did remind me of another genre I hadn’t considered in my earlier monologue on the topic — mystery, specifically the noir mystery. Noir is, of course, the original dark genre — it literally means “black” in French, after all — and is all about atmosphere more than anything.
The specific thing that I picked up from Black Dahlia that I liked was the three-way friendship between Bucky, Lee and Kay. This isn’t a new idea, of course — what is? However, it did get me to thinking.
In my story, so far, I have a couple of placeholder roles — the main protagonist and the prime antagonist minion, who used to be a good friend to the main protagonist and other protagonist characters. I know that something comes between the protagonist and the minion, something that ultimately makes the minion embrace the main antagonist. What could be more basic than a woman?
It’s a classic story. You have three friends — one woman, two men. For a while, they’re the three musketeers, los amigos tres. However, both men fall for the woman, and ultimately, she has to pick one of them. The loser — or perhaps, the perceived loser — removes himself from the group, isolating himself, thus making himself vulnerable to the temptations of the dark.
I rather like the idea, although I need to figure out a way to incorporate it into the story so that it’s not completely a cliché. Of course, what is originality but the art of hiding one’s sources?