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Unit 26: Film Studies Genre

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Dominic Hand

on 8 September 2014

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Transcript of Unit 26: Film Studies Genre

Genre Studies
Intro Task
What is your favourite genre?
Why is this genre your favourite?
What do you like about this genre?
(Is this something to do with the characters,
or the subject matter, or even the attitudes
the stories tend to deal with?)
Do you feel this genre has changed over the
years? If so, why might this be?
Genre's definition;
"Genre is a fundamental means by which we communicate, especially in storytelling. Genre allow us to take the actual world in which we live and transform it into something much more controllable, much more rule-bound, in which imagining solutions can be offered for real problems." (J. Nelmes)
How did our past knowledge of storytelling help us to understand this film.
With this as our definition, by relating genre to the film aspect of Media. Seeing it as the films language system, it can be seen to perform two functions;
1) As structures used by those making meaning, both film makers and spectators.
2) As discourses for those who wish to talk about their response to films i.e. audiences, critics etc.
What if the genre rules are broken?
Will a film become harder to
When we analyse genre, the first area which helps us to understand what sort of film we are watching is classified as iconography. This means the characteristics which you expect to see in a film dependent on what genre it is.
Areas that can help us identify iconography are;
Props, costumes, settings.
As we have grown up understanding these codes, sometimes filmmakers use them to morph the perspective and change the meaning
When these codes are broken, it is usually a sign that they will be integral to a film. Look at the style of speech from this film noir compared to this recent teen movie.
(Character type)
How to define a genre?
The diagram below shows a number of possible distinctive signifiers which can help in identifying a film's genre.
(choice from conventional range of signifiers within each paradigm)
(choice from conventional range of signifiers within each paradigm)
Boots &
Saloon girl
with a heart
of gold
Cars with
running boards
The moll
Within every genre we set a certain amount of expectations dependent on what the genre is. Because of this there are reoccurring themes and solutions, can you think of these for these genres?
Due to these expectations we can use a variety of binary oppositions which help us to calculate these aspects of films.
For example the Western genre;
Open Space vs Containment
Wilderness vs Cultivation
Individualism vs Institution
Natural Law vs Institutional Law
These binary oppositions allow us to highlight characters and themes within the films we watch.
Using the genre you started with pick a film that you know;
What are the thematic issues and problems within the genre in terms of binaries?
How are these problems worked through by the end of the film?
In terms of the central character how much does he/she rely on their extrodinary qualities in order to solve the problems during the film?
How many genres are there?
Film theorist Frank McConnell believes there are only five;
EPIC - The king establishes the state
Adventure Romance - The knight consolidates the state
Melodrama - The pawn is trapped in the institutionalised state of laws
Satire - The fool points out the craziness of the institutionalised state
Apocalypse - A breakdown into anarchy and decadence which requires the establishment of a new order.
How might we use this approach to understand these two films?
All of today can help us to understand and classify genres, so how do we analyse it?
1) A film references its own codes and conventions, we can link these to the real world through the representations and ideological issues at the start of the film.
2) A check list in order to classify and then explore differences in films.
3) Audiences see what is similar and yet different in a number of films, this allows us to engage with the genre.
Is a way that texts relate to other texts in order for the viewer to understand what they are watching.
Applying our knowledge of genre analysis
how might we understand this film?
Having looked into genre studies you must now create a presentation in which you highlight the genre of your choice. In this presentation you must;
Find a quote which defines your genre.
Highlight the codes and conventions of this genre
(include narrative, themes, characters, settings, props)
Use plenty of examples to show how these aspects reoccur within this genre.
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