social realism genre
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Genre themes 0 They focus on topical issues at the time of development, although these issues have
changed over time, accounting for their relevance to the current times and situations. 0 Many social realism films revolve around contemporary issues such as discrimination through racism, sexism and homophobia. 0 Often set in a working class location, these films often include common ‘back-street’ themes such as prostitution, drugs, gang life, crime and alcoholism. 0 Many social realism are related to political and sometimes religious views; as most are set in working class environments, a common theme is an extreme hatred towards the conservative party (and for example, Margaret Thatcher in ‘Brassed Off’.
Genre themes 0 The age or group of the audience depends on the type of social realism film. For
example, if the film revolves around youth culture and violence, like ‘Kidulthood’, a younger audience (15-30 age group) will be attracted. Meanwhile, a more politically motivated social realism film would attract an older audience, like ‘Brassed Off’. 0 They usually focus on the relationships between distinct groups of people. While this can relate to racism, , these relationships can also revolve around families and friendship groups or gangs. One example is ‘In Our Name’, where the film concentrates on a group of soldiers returning from their tours in war-torn Iraq.
Genre narrative conventions 0 They are characterised as being focused more
on substance over style. 0 They are often non-restricted; in other words, the audience is omniscient in terms of what they see on screen. They are able to see the actions and situations of multiple roles. 0 They usually revolve around the hardships of a specified group’s life, such as working class people or immigrants to Britain, like in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. Although they often present these areas negatively, the togetherness found in the communities is often portrayed, presenting them in a more positive light. 0 Depending on the type of film, the ending will vary between a conclusive closed one and an open one, which may result in a sequel, such as ‘Adulthood’, following ‘Kidulthood’.
Genre narrative conventions 0 The events that occur in these films usually
represent or replicate real life, hence the ‘realism’ of the film. 0 They are often filmed in a hand-held style, so appear as if we are following a true series of events. Again, this suggests that we, as an audience, are following the real lives of the characters. This is known as verisimilitude. 0 They are often characterised as being lowlight areas, highlighting or connoting a hardship people in the area face. 0 They are also characterised by using many stereotypes about a localised area or targeted groups of people. Sometimes, however, they present them in atypical ways, like in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, were (some of) the immigrants are portrayed as intelligent and valuable in society.
Generic Conventions- Case Study ‘Kidulthood’, 2006 0 The audience is able to see the events through the perspectives of many characters, as over the course of 48 hours, the themes of youth and gang culture, violence, drugs, sex and teenage pregnancies, bullying and alcohol are explored in West London. 0 The events are inspired by the contemporary issues society faces today, particularly in the typically working class areas of London. 0 The characters all face their own problems, and as an audience we wish them to get through the difficulties, however, they are still stereotyped negatively through the actions they commit. 0 It is filmed in a handheld style, so we feel like we are following them directly, making the experience seem more ‘real’.
Generic Conventions- Case Study ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002 0 The film revolves around the hardships faced by a number of illegal immigrants in London. Stereotypically, these people are viewed negatively in society, however their togetherness as a community is very positive. 0 Atypically, the film shows the immigrants to be intelligent and appreciated in society, which is not normally the case. 0 The themes involved, such as crime and prostitution, although possibly not able to relate to the audience, speak volumes as we understand the existence of these ‘dark’ areas in society. 0 We follow Senay and Okwe, the immigrants who, amidst their normal working lives, uncover a crime leading to the black market. We therefore have an omniscient view of the events that unfold.
Extended Case Study: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ 0 This social realism film focuses on a male immigrant who works multiple jobs in London to earn a living. However, in a shift at the hotel he works at, he discovers a human heart in a toilet, and he uncovers a dreadful criminal organisation operated within the hotel management. 0 Racial segregation seems apparent, as immigrants seem to not interact with local people much, but instead mainly interact with other foreigners. 0 Sexism is also apparent, as men seem more powerful and dominant in the community, for example, the Asian man in the factory forces Senay, the female protagonist to perform sexual acts with him. However, to adapt to modern culture, she becomes more powerful in her own situations, as she resists the man. This could represent equality in modern day society. The theme of standing up for what is right is a regular theme in the narratives of social realism films.
Extended Case Study: ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ 0 Crime, prostitution and the black market are the main themes in the film, conforming to the genre as the film is about the ‘darker’ aspects of society, yet ones which are based on real life. 0 The main protagonist (Okwe), is kind and protective of Senay, conforming to typical protagonist attributes, as he stands up for what is morally right. He is flawed too, however, he is wrongly accused of murdering his wife in Nigeria, his home country. 0 As with many social realism films, there is a shocking ending, where the main criminal is himself drugged and his kidney is taken for the black market. Shocks and cliff hangers occur in other films too, such as ‘Kidulthood’. 0 Atypically, some of the immigrants are portrayed as intelligent and are valued in society, whereas stereotypes suggest immigrants are unintelligent and are not valued in society.
Generic Conventions- Case Study ‘The Full Monty’, 1997 0 The film follows the hardships experienced by a group of former miners in Sheffield, as they hunt for jobs and money. Inspired by a strip-tease act, they make one of their own in desperation. 0 Although it is a comedy, the audience can relate to the difficulties they face and the themes, which include unemployment, fathers’ rights, homosexuality, obesity, suicide and general working class culture. 0 We follow multiple perspectives as each character takes their own individual journey to have the courage to not only take to the stage, but confront other difficulties too. 0 The ‘Steel City’ is an appropriate setting as it highlights the difficulties of unemployment and redundancy that the workforce faced. This issue is one many people can relate to in the audience, so establishes a sense of realism.
Generic Conventions- comparison 0 The themes involved in the films are related to issues at the time of production. For example, ‘Kidulthood’ exhibits youth violence and gang culture has been a big issue in London for the last decade, while redundancy at mines was a big issue in the 80s and 90s, when ‘The Full Monty’
was made. 0 While ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ and ‘Kidulthood’ are set in the gritty, back-street areas of London, ‘The Full Monty’ is set in Sheffield. However, both are known working class environments which are degrading in parts, reflecting the hardship the characters face. 0 Although some of the narrative ideas may be a little far-fetched, the audience is able to relate to the hardship each of the characters face (through multiple perspectives in each film) to trials in their own lives.
Character conventions 0 Characters are often portrayed in a stereotypical way, and the audience, who are normally similar to the
characters, can relate to them. For example, ‘Kidulthood’ uses the stereotypical violent, angry youths that are present today, mostly in London. 0 The working class activities and the hardships that the characters face are often represented as heroic. 0 The characters often display traditional or old-fashioned views, for example, the themes and issues of sexism and racism. A sense of male dominance is also conveyed to the audience in many social realism films.
Character conventions 0 The characters, set in usually working class settings, are often quite aggressive and violent, although this often comes in the form of a protective attitude for their friends or family. 0 Where youths or young people are the main characters, social realism films usually include themes of violence, sex, drugs and crime. Although there are some films where adults (24 and over) become involved in these factors, usually, where an older generation are the main characters, they revolve around employment and politics. Both types, however, focus heavily on relationships. 0 Most of the characters are flawed in some way, whether they be protagonists or antagonists in the film.
Character Conventions- Case Study ‘Kidulthood’, 2006 0 Trevor is a ringleader of a small group, but respected by most people in the school. He is also the father to be of Alisa’s child. He represents the inner conflict that exists in these peoples’ lives due to the struggles they face. 0 Alisa is the mother of Trevor’s unborn child, and the girl he realises he loves. Conflict also exists within her, as she is continually pressured by her friend Becky. 0 Sam is the villain of the film, a thug who uses violence and intimidation frequently, while spreading lies about other characters. He may act in this way due to the absence of a father figure in his life, to guide him on the right path, as well as a desire for people to fear him or respect his power. He later kills Trife as an act of vengeance. 0 Becky shows how easy it is to get what the characters want, but also shows her to have little or no self-respect. To her, she will use her body to get what she wants, whether it be money or drugs. Her promiscuous and flippant attitudes convey a negative representation.
Character Conventions- Case Study ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002 0 Okwe is the protagonist of the film, he uncovers the secret crime that is happening in the hotel, and while trying to get himself and Senay out of the country with passports, has to protect them from immigration authorities simultaneously. 0 Senay shares the apartment with Okwe, and also has multiple jobs. She desperately wants to live her dream by starting a new life in New York, and falls in love with Okwe due to his protection of her over the course of the film. 0 Guo Yi works at a hospital mortuary, and helps his friend Okwe as much as possible. He even lets him briefly be accommodated there as immigration authorities suspect something is going on in Senay’s apartment. Guo also gives Okwe with medical supplies for his fellow taxi drivers’ use. He represents the difficult decisions a person has to make in life, one which we can all relate to. 0 Juan runs the hotel, and also an underworld crime business, by offering immigrants stuck in London passports in exchange for an organ. He represents how deep crime can go in society.
Character Conventions- Case Study
‘The Full Monty’, 1997 0 Gaz is the ringleader of the group, and initiates the idea of them performing the full monty. He is separated from his son’s mother, and has to find a job to pay child support payments to continue access. His relationship with his son is strained as he is desperate to earn a living. 0 Dave is obese, and his marriage is strained too, making him lose confidence in himself, while also being unemployed, making him desperate enough to become involved with the group. 0 Gerald is originally a nemesis of Gaz, and the pair twice nearly come to blows. That is before he himself gets involved, teaching the crew how to dance. His actions and eventual employment before the show give the rest of the group hope for their own welfare and solutions to their problems. 0 Lomper is originally found attempting to commit suicide, but the group manages to turn his life around with their friendship. He represents changing attitudes, within himself and others around him, as he discovers homosexual feelings between him and Guy.
Character Conventions- Comparisons 0 In each of these films, the characters are
conveyed as working class heroes, despite, in ‘Kidulthood’s case for example, the protagonists frequently acting violently or anti-socially. In films like ‘London to Brighton’ however, some of the characters are working class villains. 0 They all convey a sense of male dominance, suggesting traditional values still exist, especially in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, where this may represent the different cultures of the immigrants. 0 Character development is key in all of these social realism films, as the audience is able to connect with their experiences and difficulties through the narrative. 0 Each film appears to show at least one person who does not care about life or how they live it. Lomper is found attempting to commit suicide in ‘The Full Monty’, there is a prostitute staying in a hotel for business in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, while Becky in ‘Kidulthood’ performs sexual favours to obtain drugs.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study ‘Kidulthood’, 2006 0 Camerawork -(Extreme) close ups are used frequently in the opening title sequence as we see Trife working on something. His hard work on this ambiguous object conveys him in a positive way until we realise it is a gun. Therefore, the audience realises that no location is safe, and makes all other characters appear less innocent. -Close ups are used throughout the film to get the characters constantly changing emotions across to the audience. This also establishes the inner conflict each of them faces. -Medium, medium long and long shots follow the action, particularly in the chase sequences and fights between various characters. -POV and associated POV shots are also used to create a further sense of realism to the narrative.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Editing
-A graphic match is used towards the end of the film as Trife and Alisa are sitting down in different locations clearly thinking about each other and the wrongs they have committed in their lives. -Shot-reverse-shot is also frequently used to correspond with the close ups, following the characters conversations and tracking their changing emotions depending on the situations.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Props
The use of a gun in a school conveys the lack of innocence that young people appear to show. It represents the fact that nowhere is truly safe from violence or society’s troubles. The continuous use of drugs conveys a lack of fear in youth culture, and a desire to experience something new. It may also represent the existent peer pressure put on young people by others to grow up and mature fast. 0 Lighting
Natural light is used mostly, to convey a sense of realism to the audience. However, in what appears to resemble an interrogation, Trevor’s uncle keeps an acquaintance hostage for punishment in an attempt to gain justice independently.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Setting
West London is ideal for a film of such dark themes, as it shows the two sides to the capital, in terms of social class and different groups. As well as a central business hub, it is known nowadays as an increasingly crimeridden area. 0 Costume, figure expression
The stereotypical look of gangsters in hoodies and tracksuits or jeans is used, possibly as an attempt to replicate the unjustified fear of the age group and the look as well.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, 2002 0 Camerawork -Close ups are used throughout the film to convey the characters’ emotions to the audience. Additionally, it is used to convey shock, for example, when Okwe pulls a heart from the toilet. -Medium shots are frequently used to combine emotions with action throughout the film. Emotions run high with the problems the characters face (crime and anxiety from authorities) while the action is also common.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Editing
-Straight cuts are used mostly to allow the action to flow, and for the audience to become fully involved in the film due to the realism of the themes. -Shot-reverse-shot also occurs frequently, as dialogue drives the narrative, therefore continuous the realism theme.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Props
The use of a heart in the toilet of the hotel room is symbolic as it represents the fact that the film is able to take the form of a love story, with the romance between Senay and Okwe, and a horror story, due to the crime being committed. 0 Lighting Natural lighting is often used, but as much of the film takes place at night, when crime typically increases, interior lighting is used. It is quite bright in the hotel for example, and represents the realisation of a terrible crime occurring within its walls.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Setting
Again, the film is set in the backstreets of London, portraying its ‘underground’ and crime-ridden culture that lies underneath the stereotypically beautiful, business filled city. 0 Costume, figure expression The main characters, who are all immigrants, mostly illegal, usually wear respectable formal clothing, which gives them positive representation. However, the actions they commit, such as Guo giving Okwe medical supplies, makes the audience question the position of those in charge, those with authority, much like contemporary issues.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study ‘The Full Monty’, 1997 0 Camerawork -Long shots are frequently used in comedic style to emphasise the desperation and effort the characters put in to their routine. The characters are usually in a line-up in these shots, so the audience can observe each of their ridiculous moves. -Close ups are used to convey the intense emotions that run through each of the characters. Although, it is a comedy, the film strikes a chord with serious issues like unemployment and fathers’ rights. Nonetheless, embarrassment is also often conveyed, mostly through Gaz’s son. -POV shots are also used to show the absurdity of what some of the characters are watching, particularly for comedic effect, in the job centre queue for example.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Editing
-Straight cuts are mostly used to continue the flow of action and replicate the passing of time and represent the changing perspectives of the characters for a specific sequence. -Shot-reverse-shot is frequently used to show the spontaneity of the group’s comments, they often do not think about what they say. The technique also contributes to conveying emotions to the audience.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Props
The use of the hats at the end, with the characters throwing them away represents them throwing away their worries and their troubles. The football represents the typical working class culture existent through the decades, whatever trials people have…there’s always football. 0 Lighting It is natural lighting mainly, to contribute a sense of realism, however, the stage is lit up brightly on both occasions Gaz enters, once where the idea initiates, and secondly were the group are earning the money strived so hard to obtain.
Mise-en-scene: Case Study 0 Setting
The setting of Sheffield, the ‘steel city’ is representative of the redundancies that took place in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. The frequent closure of mines and quarries across the country hit workers hard, leaving many unemployed and struggling to keep their families afloat financially. 0 Costume, figure expression The characters are wearing cheap, dirty casual clothing mainly, representing their status as working class. Gerald, however, wears a suit, to deceive his wife suggesting he is still employed at the steelworks and making money.
Mise-en-scene: Comparisons 0 Close-ups are iconic of social realism
films, as they allow the audience to see exactly what the characters are feeling throughout the events of the narrative. 0 POV shots are frequent in ‘Kidulthood’ and ‘The Full Monty’, but are rarely if at all used in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’. They are used in ‘Kidulthood’ to establish a further sense of realism in the narrative, so express that the difficulties faced are true in modern society. 0 The main type of cut throughout these films are straight cuts, to help the action to flow, and to increase its verisimilitude. 0 Conversations to create character development are key, so shot-reverseshot is a technique used frequently in each of these films.
Mise-en-scene: Comparisons 0 The settings are all in declining areas of industrial cities (London and Sheffield). This helps the audience associate the area
with the context of the themes, so we can relate it to the issues expressed in the film, for example, gang culture in London for ‘Kidulthood’ and unemployment in 80s and 90s Sheffield. 0 While the lighting in ‘Dirty Pretty Things’ is mainly dark to give a sense of the ‘backstreet’ events that happen in London, the mainly daylight hour filming for ‘The Full Monty’ emphasises the fact that they are struggling for employment; they should be working, and not in the situations they find themselves in. It also highlights the shame; there is no way to hide from unemployment. 0 Typical clothing to that specific era and narrative are used, for example, hoodies and caps in ‘Kidulthood’ and cheap casual wear (mainly) in ‘The Full Monty’.