Essay on Film Genre

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A true film genre relies on shared iconography, formalistic themes and similar narrative structures and content.

‘What genre does is recognize that the audience any one film within a context of other films, both those they have personally seen and those they have heard about or seen represented in other media outlets. …In general, the function of genre is to make films comprehensible and more or less familiar. (turner 97)’.

Action/adventure, the Western, Gangster/Crime, Detective/Film Noir, Comedy, Science fiction/Fantasy, Horror/Monster, Suspense Thriller/Spy/Heist and many others groups are usually used for marketing in stores where films are being sold. The majority of viewers, film critics, and film producers talk about films in relation to the categories. These categories are generally called genres. ‘The word “genre” is originally French, and it simply means “kind” or “type”. It’s related to another word, “genus”, which is used in the biological sciences to classify groups of plant and animals.’ A true film genre is a product of interaction between audience and the text. Therefore, all producers and audiences must have a quite good understanding and what is more important shared knowledge of genre’s characteristics.’ For instance,’ westerns, at least the traditional ones, tend to share the same basic conflict and usually the same type of setting. All detective films share the same basic story: the uncovering of causes. Musicals share nothing more than frequent prominent interludes of music and perhaps dancing during a story.’ This shared knowledge, however, is not set in stone. Different people will have divergent understandings of genre.’ According to this statement, audiences expand general ideas about any kind of genre based on going to the cinema, media coverage or advertisements and marketing. As a result of consequence, viewers have their own anticipations about a particular genre and define films according to their expectations. ‘Genres are based on a tacit agreement among filmmakers, reviewers and audiences. What gives the films some common identity are shared genre conventions.’ Shared conventions are shared thematic, stylistic and narrative structures. Although not every single film demonstrate all of the conventions, at least some of them are shown in a film. This helps the film critics to define whether this film fall into a particular group of films – genre. Moreover, critical analysis of any film can take place only if conventions are considered. These conventions are also called “repertoire of elements”. In this document shared genre conventions in terms of horror will be discussed.

The horror genre has become much more popular nowadays than ever before. ‘If its beginnings were rooted in literature – Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” (1818) and Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” (1897) are the titles that seem to spring to everyone’s mind – we also know that stories have always been told about ghosts, monsters, witches and the dark.’ There are a lot of reasons why this genre is so popular today. However, it is still really difficult to clarify why it is so engaging for a great number of people regardless of its unreality. ‘The genre of ‘Horror’ has been around since the late 1800’s giving it decades to develop and change.’ ‘From the 1930s to the 1970s, most horror films were considered very much the poor brethren of the film world.’ The reason was that horror films were made on a low budget. Furthermore, the target audience was young people who went to the cinemas late nights to have fun and scream their way. The great example was ‘the film “Matinee” (directed by Joe Dante, 1993)’ which demonstrates that horror films were watched mostly by young people at that time. However, there were such films like “Psycho” (1960) and “The Birds” (1963) by Alfred Hitchcock which managed to change perspective of horror films in a better way. Since audiences appreciate thrill and excitement they experience during watching...
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