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Thriller and Genre Inc Genre Theory Blog Version

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So What is genre? And why does genre happen? And why are some genres more successful than others?

Starting with the last question Some genres are successful because the conditions for the genres existence exist (i.e. some peoples interests are served by its labelling)

Whose interests do generic ideas serve?

Genre Theory: a regulated variety (Neale, 1980) Genre theory is to do with a circulation of expectations between industries, media texts and audiences. This leads to a regulated variety

Hartley, 1999A contract between producer and audience which disciplines choices and reduces desires.

Barry Keith Grant, Experience and meaning in Genre films Surely one of our basic ways of understanding film genres, and of explaining their evolution and changing fortunes of popularity and production, is as collective expressions of contemporary life that strike a particularly resonant chord with audiences. For eg. The 30s musicals are on one level explained as an Escapist Depression fantasy; Film noir in the 40s expressed first the social and sexual dislocations brought about by WWII and then the disillusionment when it ended; The innumerable science-fiction films of the 50s embodied cold war tensions and nuclear anxiety new to that decade.

Can you think of recent films which could define the 00s and societys anxieties?

Genre as ideological?The Genre film offers a lesson in how to act within society and how to deal with current problems and anxieties. But it does not offer neutral ways of dealing with social problems; instead, it prescribes a preferred set of values.Can you think of what kind of values would be predominant? Think of current films to refer to specific examples. Remember the early point we made: genre serves the interests of several parties How could this become problematic if a writer wants to emphasize a different set of values?

Genre as ideological?The Genre film offers a lesson in how to act within society and how to deal with current problems and anxieties. But it does not offer neutral ways of dealing with social problems; instead, it prescribes a preferred set of values.

Preferred set of values in todays films: Those of capitalist ideology with its emphasis on the individual: The individuals right of ownership, private enterprise, and personal wealth; The nuclear family with traditional gender roles; The necessity of conforming to moral and social laws Etc.

Assumptions made around Genre for critique (ie you need to engage in the debate) Genres are defined by producers and easily recognizable by audiences Genres evolve Genre is ideological Texts belong clearly to a particular genre Genres are not specifically located in history

All theorists agree about the slippery and fluid nature of labeling texts in this way. But the exception to the rule is the pure genre text And of course, the AUTEUR film

From Micro to Macro Study the micro elements on your given picture:mise-en-scene (lighting, props, costumes, colours etc) setting character types actors used

Then come up with the big picture (macro level): Can you attach a genre to the still from a film?

The creative task Construct and storyboard a 2min sequence of rendez-vous in a particular genre. Use post-its Aim for 14-20 frames

GenreAll genres are made up of key elements including: Protagonists Plots and situations Icons (objects or star) Backgrounds There is a name for these key elements

GenreGeneric Conventions the features that you would expect to see in a particular genre. e.g. The generic conventions of a horror film include isolated settings, storms, teenage protagonists, murder, darkness, etc

Film GenresHorror Musical Animation Science Fiction Action Drama Comedy Thriller



Film Genres

Disney Disaster

Gangster Romance Chick Flicks Fantasy Crime


British film

Star Association - When an actor/actress becomes an icon for a particular genre


Associated Genre

Examples Notting Hill Love Actually Ace Ventura The Mask Along came Polly The Good Girl Happy Gilmore The Wedding SingerSinging in the Rain Hello Dolly Road Trip American Pie

Hugh Grant Jim Carrey Jennifer Aniston Adam Sandler Fred Astaire Sean William Scott Will Smith Angelina Jolie

Romance Comedy Romance Comedy Musicals Teen

Science Fiction

Men in Black I RobotMr & Mrs Smith Tomb Raider


Examples of poster terminology

Examples of poster terminologyTitle Block Rule of 3 TaglineGenre Crime/comedy Typical Characters Police officers. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost are star associated with the comedy genre e.g. Shaun of the Dead, stereotypical characters Typical Narrative On a mission to save the city of London from another terrorist attack. Typical setting The City Icons guns, smoke


Central Image

Mark of Quality



Most films are hybrids They span more than one genre They might rework conventions in some way (see later on in lesson)

The Hit Making Software

So what do we think? How useful is genre? Is it useful to have a genre brief? Is it a hindrance to creativity? Do some research and look at who the winners are

What have you learnt about the Thriller genre? Five minutes to jot down all you can think of including generic conventions and subgenres with examples.

Consider the list of conventions below in your analysis and technical construction of a thriller: (1) The narrative centres around a crime eg. a theft or a murder. The protagonist is fallible and has an 'Achilles heel' that is exploited by the antagonist. The title of the thriller may relate to this weakness eg Vertigo and Insomnia. The protagonist will be seen 'in peril' in one or more scenes before the resolution. The antagonist ensnares the protagonist in an increasingly complex web, until the protagonist feels isolated and helpless. The narrative presents ordinary situations in

Consider the list of conventions below in your analysis and technical construction of a thriller: (2) Themes of identity are common: mistaken identity, doubling/doppelgangers, amnesia. Themes of seeing, reflection and mirroring. Manipulation of perspectives and optical illusions are common. The audience of a thriller is placed in the ambiguous position of voyeur. Voyeurism can also be a theme and the objectification of female characters is common especially in earlier thrillers A series of/ one important enigma(s) are/is set up in the opening sequence of the film, is further

THE SUSPENSE THRILLERCharles Derry is one of the few theorists who has tried to systematize the genre and shift the focus to films other than Hitchcock s. Derry defines the suspense thriller a crime work which presents a generally murderous antagonism in which the protagonist becomes either an innocent victim or a nonprofessional criminal within a structure that is significantly unmediated by a traditional figure or detection Derry s broad definition means that films as different as Vertigo (1958) and Fatal Attraction (1987) fall under the same label and that is why he further recognises six major sub-types.

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