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Elements of Genre in Film Analysis
GENRE A category used to classify a film in terms of certain general patterns of form and content. Cook, D. A History of Narrative Film p.966
Genres are defined in terms of
.Narrative .Characterization .Theme .Setting .Iconography .Filmic techniques .Tone and Mood
Narrative Refers to similar or formulaic plots and structures, predictable situations, sequences, episodes, obstacles, conflicts and resolutions. For example: Boy and girl meet, fall in love, are separated by random event or fight, spend miserable time while apart, reunite and marry at the end of movie.
The Romantic Comedy Pretty Woman (1990) Gary Marshall
Characterization Similar types of characters (sometimes stereotypes), roles, personal qualities, motivations, goals, behavior may help us identify a film’s genre. For example: The nerd in high-school comedies, the femme fatale in film noir, the outlaw in the Western.
The femme fatale Gilda (1946) Charles Vidor
Theme Refers to the subject matter of the film, the topic that is developed through the story.
For example: Domestic conflict in melodramas, justice in courtroom dramas, corruption in gangster films, human hubris in science fiction.
Justice (Courtroom Drama) Philadelphia (1993) Jonathan Demme
Setting The place where the story takes place, whether a particular geographical location or a time in history, can give us clues about genre.
For example: The Western in the mythic frontier, the film noir in the corrupt city, melodramas in domestic spaces, the future in science fiction.
The Dystopian Future Blade Runner (1982) Ridley Scott
Iconography The recurrence of familiar stock of images or motifs such as décor, costume and objects, certain 'typecast' performers, familiar patterns of dialogue, characteristic music and sounds, and appropriate physical topography usually are indications of particular genres.
For example: Chicago+Tommy guns+Prohibition = gangster films. Nerd+Jock+Cheerleader+high school=comedy.
Nerds and Cheerleaders Revenge of the Nerds (1984) Jeff Kanew
Filmic techniques Stylistic or formal conventions of camerawork, lighting, sound-recording, use of color, editing etc., are also factors in defining genre in films. For example: Dark ambiances in film noir, bright lights and vivid colors in musicals, parallel action in suspense or horror films.
Barely lit streets The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001) Joel Coen
Tone Tone refers to the attitude the author transmits to the work or the way the theme is approached within the work. For example: Depending on the tone, a film about death can be a comedy or a drama.
Ever thought nuclear holocaust could be hilarious? Dr. Strangelove (1964) Stanley Kubrick
Mood Mood pervades throughout the film and causes particular feelings and sensations in the audience. The mood of a movie can be constructed by means of the music, lighting, camera movement, editing etc. For example: Sunshine, beach, upbeat music, people laughing set a happy, optimistic mood for a story.
Songs and bright colors give musicals a happy mood Grease (1978) Randal Kleiser
Genre and Parody Parodies exploit viewers’ knowledge of generic conventions and use them to make fun of certain film genres.
For example: Austin Powers vs. James Bond Scary Movie vs. Ring
Spies were never so funny! Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999) Jay Roach
References Chandler, Daniel (1997): 'An Introduction to Genre Theory' [WWW document] URL http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Documents/intgenre/cha ndler_genre_theory.pdf
Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. New York and London: W.W. Norton and Company, 1996. Music: Colossus. Kevin MacLeod. incompetech.com
Presentation by Nahirana Zambrano Cultura y Sociedad_Inglés English Department School of Modern Languages University of Los Andes, Venezuela