Genre can be described as the type or category defining an area of media. Below are a few examples of some of the main film and TV genres and what  they are typically associated with.

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Film Debate (2014) http://filmdebate.co.uk/debate/debate-genre-mixing-vs-pure-genres/ Last Accessed 29/09/16

Genre Expectations

The connotations that come with each genre are called genre expectations and this defines what the audience will expect to see when viewing a film or programme of this genre. Some typical conventions of  different film genres and the elements people may look for if they’re watching one may include:

Sci-fi

  • Futuristic elements
  • Space
  • Technology
  • Aliens
  • Robots

Western:

  • Horses
  • Tumbleweed
  • Cowboys
  • The sun
  • Desert.

Thriller:

  • Implied violence
  • A plot twist
  • Relatable subjects
  • A sense of normality
  • Fear

Fantasy:

  • Positive outcome
  • Supernatural
  • Mythical
  • Make-relieve location
  • Hero
  • Magical objects

Horror:

  • Dark lighting
  • Suspense
  • Jump scares
  • Blood
  • Screaming
  • Isolated areas
  • Weapons
  • Villains

Romantic Comedy (Rom/Com):

  • Relationships
  • Disaster
  • Humour
  • Happy ending
  • Urban environment
  • Relatable
  • Comforting

A film’s genre can be dependant on a variety of different elements including:

Mise-en-scene

This  can be described as everything that is shown on screen. This involves the arrangement of scenery, props and actors in a film along with the setting or surroundings of the events.

Iconography

This ultimately means the objects that are in the scene. Iconography is an important part of genre as we expect to see certain objects regarding the genre of what we’re watching. For example in a western film we would expect to see cowboy hats, boots, guns and horses.

Props or clothes

Both clothes and props are important parts of making up the genre of a film. Through simply looking at the clothes a character is wearing it can allow viewers to find out a lot about the character and the genre of the film quickly. Props can often just be seen as something in the background, however props can be important in helping to communicate a message and props can help to provide additional information about the character itself or that will further along the story.

Narrative

Narrative is the art of storytelling and the structure in which a film will tell a story. The genre of a film will determine how the narrative is told. For example a romantic comedy may be told through jokes and a vast amount of dialogue, however a horror film may be told through actions and body language rather than dialogue.

Technology

The technology of a film includes the lighting, sound and any sfx used. The use of lighting can be very significant tin helping to tell the genre of a film, for example the use of low lighting can help to create mystery and is a key aspect of the film noir genre. Sound is also an important part of film and both diegetic and non-diegetic sound can help to build an atmosphere and give an idea to a film genre. For example slow songs playing throughout the film may suggest the film to be of the romantic genre.

Why is Genre important?

The main reason genre is so important in film and TV is the audience and their decision on whether to watch the film or not. For example if someone is a big fan of comedy films they would be able to look at the trailer or film poster of a film and from the look be able to decided if they want to see it – if its a genre they typically like watching  such as comedy they will be more inclined to watch. Another reason genre is so important is for producers and directors. They need to make sure while they’re making the film that it is going to appeal to their target audience and include some of the genre expectations of their chosen genre to ensure their target audience is going to want to watch it.

The Film Noir Genre

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‘Film Noir’ Wikipedia (2016)

The noir films first came about during the war as during this time films were becoming a popular way of spending time and these were films that could be made very quickly and the low lighting didn’t matter. The films were inspired both by literature and previous film history such as the literary tradition ‘hard-boiled novels’. These crime novels were very popular and became a basis for most noir films. Today noir films  still generally always have a crime or mystery genre and are shot in black and white.

During class we briefly studied film noir and watched the start of three key film noir films, The Maltese Falcon, Double Indemnity and Gilda. The film noir style has made these films some of the most highly valued films and their clever use of dark lighting helps to portray the crime genre of the films while showing the character’s emotions.

The Maltese Falcon

This is one of the earliest film noirs and is so highly regarded because of its unique visual style and use of low key lighting, The distinctive use of camera angles that help to build tension, the film is also famous for its portrayal of the femme fetale and its use of dialogue. Unlike many other film noirs, The Maltese Falcon has a linear narrative meaning the story unfolds from beginning to end, so instead of using things such as flashbacks to tell the story, the concentration is on the sue of dialogue.

Double Indemnity

Double Indemnity is a classic film noir and follows the genre completely, especially within the characters. The men wear dark suits, smoke cigarettes and wear traditional hats while the women wear elegant dresses, expensive looking jewellery while helps to create the films overall atmosphere of danger and attraction. The opening scene is representative of the overall mood and the, immediately using low lighting so show us a shadow of the character, creating mystery.

Harvard Reference 

‘American History’ (2012) http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/essays/general/does-film-noir-mirror-the-culture/the-origins-of-film-noir.php – Last Accessed 29/09/16

‘Film Noir’ Wikipedia (2016)  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Film_noir – Last Accessed 29/09/16

‘Old Hollywood Films’ Garett. A (2015) http://www.oldhollywoodfilms.com/2015/06/film-noir-of-week-maltese-falcon.html – Last Accessed 29/09/16

‘The Artifice’ Bitoun. R (2014) http://the-artifice.com/double-indemnity-film-noir-classic/ – Last Accessed 29/09/16

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