Shaun of Dead
An In-Depth Code Analysis
With the large variety of interests that flourish within the society, it is no shock that genres exist, especially in film, as the definition of entertainment differs from person to person. A genre is a category of films that are characterised by similarities in the narrative elements and conventions found within the films. Genres are extremely useful to both film producers and audiences as it helps them narrow down the target audience and search for films that are in their range of interests. No one wants to watch a political drama overrun with teenagers or go into a cinema with the intentions of watching a romantic comedy, only to receive blood and gore instead.
However, because of the originality and innovativeness found in the film industry, films tend to belong to more than one genre, spawning hybrids such as ‘romantic comedy’ or ‘science fantasy’. One particular film that represents multiple genres flawlessly is Shaun of the Dead, which is directed by Edgar Wright and stars actors like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. The film is about a man named Shaun who has to juggle personal, relationship and family issues – all the while coping with an apocalyptic zombie uprising. Shaun of the Dead interweaves the conventions of three distinct genres – horror, comedy and romance – through its use of narrative, character and SWAT codes.
The fact that Shaun of the Dead is a hybrid film is quite obvious, seen through the multiple genre conventions that are found in the movie. Under horror, the film uses one of the many monsters of horror: zombies. Because of the level of violence these zombie exert, the film contains lots of blood and gore, which can generally either scare or disgust some people. For comedy, the producers followed the act of repetition and made repeating jokes. In some ways, they serve as a foreshadowing for an event that would use the same joke again, but in a different context. As for romance, the major convention of the romance genre is that there is a love triangle and a man’s quest to fight for her love and win her back.
The variety of conventions in the film elicits a wider range of emotions as the three genres that the film conforms to are very different and evoke different reactions. The main purpose of a horror film is to instill fear and cause suspense, drawing gasps and screams of shock from the audience, whereas comedy films aim to make the audience laugh. Romance, on the other hand, intends to make the audience feel strong emotions in response to love, be it happiness or sadness. It seems unlikely that such contrasting genres could be combined into one good film, but Shaun of the Dead has succeeded through its adherence to the conventions and its ability to piece them together.
Camera conventions are the camera shots and angles that are used frequently in a particular genre. For example, close ups are often used in dramas to focus on the emotion in the character’s face. At the climax of the movie, there is an abundance of genre camera conventions that can be found in the pub scenes. When the characters begin to fight the one zombie in the pub, the camera moves quite fast to convey the characters’ confusion and a frantic feeling. The fast pace makes the scene more action packed, letting the audience feel the hecticness of the scene. When Shaun gets the gun, it moves to a close up of him and the pace becomes slower, introducing the gun and letting the audience focus on it. This action suggests that the gun might be important later on. As Shaun starts shooting the zombies, not only does cuts start getting faster, but the camera is place on the butt of the gun, giving the audience a peek at the point of view behind the gun. This gives the audience a sensation of playing a shooting game, which is a reference to the many zombie killing video games that had minor details of it incorporated into the film.
When Shaun’s mum dies, the camera took close ups...
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