Genre by Il5G1b


► Debbie Stone: We were up at "the
  top of the world" and we saw this
  shooting star and we decided to go
  look for it. But instead of finding the
  shooting star we saw this... this
  circus tent. And that's when we
  went inside, and that is when we
  saw those people in those... those
  pink, cotton candy cocoons. Dave, it
  was not a circus tent. It was
  something else.
  Dave Hanson: What? What?
  Mike Tobacco: It was a space
  ship. And there was these things,
  these killer clowns, and they shot
  popcorn at us! We barely got away!
  Curtis Mooney: Killer clowns, from
  outer space. Holy shit!
► (1988)
        Introduction to Film Genre
►   Film genre is a concept
    that involves a process of
    categorisation and
    labelling of easily
    recognisable conventions
    that exist in any particular
    set of films
►   It is used by both film
    institutions and audiences
         Institutional use of genre
►   Film producers use genre
    as a means of minimising
    the economic risk in
    making films
►   Film distributors/exhibitors
    use genre as a means of
    advertising and promoting
►   Both depend upon
    audiences‟ foreknowledge
    and past experience
            Audience use of genre
►   Audiences use genre to
    give them predictable
    pleasures when
    consuming/watching a film
►   Audiences have certain
    expectations of genre films
►   Audiences expect genre
    films to involve innovation,
    inflection/subversion of the
    generic conventions
                       Generic conventions
►   A film genre is defined by its conventions
►   These conventions must be present to make a
    film a genre film but should involve some
    aspect of innovation, subversion and/or
    inflection (otherwise it becomes a formula
►   Generic conventions will vary from genre to
    genre but will usually involve such areas of
    repetition as:
        Mise-en-scene
        Setting
        Visual style
        Themes
        Ideology
        Stars
        Character-types (including stereotypes)
        Narratives (including events and resolutions)
        Iconography
        Cinematography
        Special effects
        Sound/music
        Function
                             against genres
► captive   audience
► against innovation + originality
► triviality of the interpreting activity, “low-
  art”, genre works=popular=bad
► marketing oriented
                              in favour of genres

►   a work has meaning in relationship to other works (Barthes)
►   it brings in cultural context & historical perspective
►   It helps us distinguish between works to avoid banal
    generalizations, i.e. “all games are violent”
►   Genres are not simply features of texts, but are mediating
    frameworks between texts, makers and interpreters. Fowler argues
    that 'genre makes possible the communication of content„. Genre
    constrains the possible ways in which a text is interpreted, guiding
    readers of a text towards a preferred reading.
►   Pleasures of identifying genre features (uses & gratification model)
►   There are many sub-
    genres of SF films
    depending upon the
    mixture of conventions
►   The basic premise of SF
    films is:
     The what if…. scenario
     It must involve some
      extrapolation of a scientific
      or technological
                       SF sub-genres
►   Alien invasion               ►   Independence Day, Invasion of
►   Disaster                         the Body Snatchers
►   Adventure                    ►   Earthquake, Deep Impact
►   Hard SF                      ►   Star Wars, Star Trek
►   Fantasy                      ►   2001: A Space Odyssey
►   Time-travel                  ►   Conan the Barbarian
►   Space travel                 ►   Terminator
►   Exploration
►   Hybrid (film noir, horror,   ►   Blade Runner, Alien, Westworld
    western)                     ►   Metropolis
►   Technology gone wild         ►   Frankenstein
►   Mad professor
                        The Western
►   “Western Films are the major
    defining genre of the American
    film industry, a eulogy to the
    early days of the expansive
    American frontier. Westerns are
    characteristically American in
    their mythic origins. Western
    films have also been called the
    horse opera, the oater, or the
    cowboy picture. The western
    film genre has portrayed much
    about America's past, glorifying
    the past-fading values and
    aspirations of the mythical by-
    gone age of the West.” (Tim
► Westerns are often set on the American
  frontier during the last part of the 19th
  century (1865-1900), in a geographically
  western (trans-Mississippi) setting with
  romantic, sweeping frontier landscapes
  or rugged rural terrain. However,
  Westerns may extend back to the time
  of America's colonial period or forward
  to the mid-20th century, or as far
  geographically as Mexico.
► '... Hollywood's West has typically been
  from 1865 to 1890 or so ... within its
  brief span we count a number of
  frontiers in the sudden rush of mining
  camps, the building of railways, the
  Indian wars, the cattle drives, the
  coming of the farmer. Together with
  the last days of the Civil War and the
  exploits of the badmen, here is the raw
  material of the western' (Kitses, 1969)
►   The western film genre
    often portrays the
    conquest of the wilderness
    and the subordination of
    nature, in the name of
    civilization. Specific
    settings include lonely
    isolated forts, ranch
    houses, the isolated
    homestead, the saloon,
    the jail, the small-town
    main street, or small
    frontier towns that are
    forming at the edges of
►   Usually, the central plot of the
    western film is the classic, simple
    goal of maintaining law and order
    on the frontier in a fast-paced
    action story. It is normally rooted in
    conflict - good vs. bad, man vs.
    man, new arrivals vs. Native
    Americans (inhumanely portrayed
    as savage Indians), human vs.
    nature, civilization vs. wilderness,
    villain vs. hero, lawman vs.
    gunslinger, law vs. anarchy, the
    rugged individualist vs. the
    unknown, settler vs. nomad, and
    farmer vs. industrialist to name a
    few. Often the hero of a western
    meets his opposite "double," a
    mirror of his own evil side that he
    has to destroy.
                Generic Conventions
    Typical elements in westerns
►   hostile elements
►   guns and gun fights (sometimes on
►   violence and human massacres
►   Horses
►   trains (and train robberies)
►   bank robberies
►   stagecoaches
►   shoot-outs and showdowns
►   outlaws and sheriffs
►   cattle drives and cattle rustling
►   posses and pursuit or 'search and
    destroy' plots
►   distinctive western clothing
►   Western heroes are often local
    law enforcement officers,
    territorial marshals, or a skilled,
    fast-draw gunfighter.
►   They are normally persons of
    integrity and principle -
    courageous, moral, tough, solid
    and self-sufficient characters
    (often with trusty sidekicks),
    possessing an independent and
    honorable attitude.
►   The Western hero can usually
    stand alone and face danger on
    his own.
                   Binary Oppositions
► Levi-Strauss‟ theory of narrative
  based upon the principle of
  conflicting ideologies in the form of
  filmic elements is particularly
  apposite for the Western
► Consider location, character and
  plots of the Western, for example:-
     Civilisation vs. savagery
     Wild landscape vs. settlements
     Indians vs. cavalry
     Sheriff/lawmen vs. outlaws
     Cattle baron vs. the homesteader

 All of these are based on the conflicts
    which existed in the frontier basis of
                  the West.
►   In no other genre is setting the real basis for
    all other generic conventions.
►   The landscape is an element which
    characterises the genre
►   It is savage (the desert) and uncivilised; it
    contains elements which are opposed to
    civilised human existence (heat, expanse,
    dust, Indians)
►   Within this landscape settlers try to impose
    law and order (a Garden) and live together in
    peace and harmony, pursuing the American
    Dream of equality of opportunity, freedom
    and individual liberty to pursue happiness
►   Opposed to this American Dream are the
    Indians and outlaws who emerge from the
    outside desert; thus there are insiders and
►   Individuals have their place in this but are
    only seen as virtuous if they help the „insiders‟
    achieve this Dream.
►   The Christian concepts of purgation and
    reform (salvation?) are key concepts; thus an
    outsider can reform if he takes on these
    The Western is dead…long live the
►   By the 1970s the western was in full decline
    and apart from the European spaghettis, and
    a handful of films like Dances with Wolves
    (1990) and Unforgiven (1992), died as a
►   However, because the western themes are so
    close to the American way of life, culture and
    ideology, they live on in other genres, notably
    in Science-fiction and action/adventure films.
►   Frayling argues that the „man with no name‟
    character played by Eastwood in the Dollars
    trilogy is the prototype for the roles that
    Stallone, Schwarzenegger et al have played in
    countless action films. They are the equivalent
    of the individual who comes from the outside
    to reinforce/restore the morality of the
    community, essentially the same as the lone
    rider helping the small community being
    terrorised by the outlaws.
►   Consider SF films, where an outside threat
    (alien, invasion, natural catastrophe) is
    nullified/neutralised by our single hero and his
►   Therefore, I would conclude that all films are

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