MIT3545 L03

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Film Genres: 

Film Genres MIT3545/41913F Lecture 3

What is Genre: 

What is Genre Types of Story Refers to the primary method of (commercial) film categorization Genre is not a theme Theme is the central idea of a story Genre is defined by the actions of the characters, or the subject matter The conventions of genres changes with time and society changes The genre gives boundaries to the story A film may be categorized into multiple genres (usual case)

Film Genres: 

Film Genres Three main elements used to categorize genres: Setting – Location of the film Crime, Historical, Science Fiction (Sci-fi), Sports, War, Western and etc. Mood – Emotional charge throughout the film Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Thriller (Suspense) and etc. Format – Particular equipment / Specific manner Animation, Biographical 傳記, Documentary 紀錄片, Experimental 實驗電影, Musical 音樂劇 and etc.

Crime Films: 

Crime Films Deals with crime, criminal justice and the darker side of human nature can fall under many other different genres Films focused on the Triad are a typical example of crime movies Examples: The Godfather series 黑社會 (杜琪峰, 2005) 省港奇兵 series (麥當雄)

Science Fiction: 

Science Fiction 科幻片 Science fiction has been a film genre since the earliest days of cinema. Includes subjects and themes that can not be readily presented in other genres Also used to explore sensitive social and political issues Today, science fiction films are in the forefront of new special effects technology Themes include realistic alien life forms, spectacular space battles, energy weapons, faster than light travel, and distant worlds.

Science Fiction (Examples): 

Science Fiction (Examples) Alien Life Forms E.T. The Extraterrestrial The Alien series Monster Godzilla series Jurassic Park series Time Travel Back to Future series 2001: A Space Odyssey (Kubrick, 1968) Mind and Identity Robocop series A Clockwork Orange (Kubrick, 1968)

Disaster Film: 

Disaster Film A disaster film is a film that has an impending or ongoing disaster as its subject Example: a major fire, earthquake, shipwreck, or an asteroid collision with Earth Alien invasion Independence Day (1996) Environmental disaster Volcanoes (1997) The Day after Tomorrow (2004)

Disaster Film (cont’d): 

Disaster Film (cont’d) Man supplanted by technology The Matrix series War with future/imaginary weapons Planet of the Apes (1968/2001) Terminator series Pandemic 12 Monkeys (1995) Outbreak (1995)


War Concerned with warfare sometimes focusing instead on prisoners of war, covert operations, military training or other related subjects Examples Bridge on River Kwai 桂河橋 (1957) – quasi-documentary Rambo Series (1982 – 1988) Top Gun (1986) Full Metal Jacket 烈血焚城 (1987) Saving Private Ryan (1998) Pearl Harbor (2001)


Western 西部片 Set in the Western US during late 19th Century Centre on the life of a a cowboy or a gunfighter Portray the conquest of the wilderness and the subordination of nature The Western depicts a society organized around codes of honor, rather than the law Comparable to Samurai 武士片 in Japanese Western after 1960 were greatly influenced by Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (黑澤明 七武士, 1954)


Action Action films comprise a genre of film which involves a fairly straightforward story of good guys versus bad guys may include fighting, stunts, car chases, explosions and the like The action typically involves individual efforts on the part of the hero In HK, they are primarily modern variations of the martial arts film

Action Sub-genres: 

Action Sub-genres Action Comedy (Buddy-Cop) Lethal Weapon Series 轟天炮 (1987-1998) Rush Hours Series 火拼時速 (1998-2001) Action Thriller Many of the films of Alfred Hitchcock and the James Bond series of films are icons of this popular sub-genre Caper/Heist Protagonists are carrying out robbery Die Hard Story takes place in limited location - single building or vehicle - seized or under threat by enemy agents Action Horror Science Fiction

Adventure Films: 

Adventure Films Adventure film typically takes place in the past (or the future), often with swordfighting Popular adventure film concepts include: An outlaw figure fighting for justice or battling a tyrant (as in Robin Hood or Zorro) Pirates (as in Pirates of the Caribbean) A search for a lost city or for hidden treasure (as in Indiana Jones) Other Examples: Back to Future Series Star Wars Series


Comedy 喜劇 With humor or seek to provoke laughter from the audience Essence of all comedy: Something goes wrong! Protagonists are faced with moderate difficulties, but overcomes them and the play ends happily (normally)

Comedy Sub-Genres (1): 

Comedy Sub-Genres (1) Fish out of water comedy film The main character finds himself in an alien environment and this drives most of the humor in the film Example: Police Academy 學警出更 (1984), Big 飛進未來 (1988) Spoof film Five main conventions for this genre Sarcasm, Huge stereotyping, Mocking other films, Violence with no consequence for characters’ actions and Obvious meanings to characters’ actions

Comedy Sub-Genres (2): 

Comedy Sub-Genres (2) Anarchic comedy film using nonsensical humor which often lampoons some form of authority Jokes and visual gags fly fast and furious Comparable to HK’s 無厘頭 Example: There’s Something About Mary 情迷索瑪莉 (1998) Black Comedy based around normally taboo subjects, including, death, murder, suicide and war Example: Big Shot’s Funeral 大腕, The Crazy Stone 瘋狂的石頭

Comedy Sub-Genres (3): 

Comedy Sub-Genres (3) Gross-out Films Rely heavily on sexual or “toilet” humour Example: American Pie 美國處男 series (1999-2003) Romantic Comedy Involves the development of a relationship between a man and a woman. The stereotyped plot line follows the “boy-gets-girl”, “boy-loses-girl”, “boy gets girl back again” sequence Example: When Harry Met Sally... 90 男歡女愛 (1989) Pretty Woman 風月俏佳人 (1990) Four Weddings and a Funeral 四個婚禮一個葬禮 (1994)

Drama film : 

Drama film 劇情片 Depends mostly on in-depth character development (slow), interaction, and highly emotional themes (Series of) Events having vivid, emotional, conflicting or striking interest and/or results Examples Crash 撞車 (2005) Lost in Translation 迷失東京 (2003) A Beautiful Mind 有你終生美麗 (2001) Casablanca 北非諜影 (1943)


Horror 恐怖片 Attempt to make the viewer experience fright, fear, terror, disgust or horror The most common elements include vampires, zombies, any kind of monsters, werewolves, ghosts, demons, inanimate objects brought to life by black magic, haunted houses and etc. Example Psycho 觸目驚心 (1960/1998) The Ring 午夜凶鈴 / 七夜冤靈 (1998 Japanese / 2002 US)

Romance / Love Story: 

Romance / Love Story 愛情片 Example Plots Lovers overcome obstacles (or not) – with a happy/tragic ending Buddy Salvation: substitutes friendship for romantic love Nowadays, romance happens not only between a man and a woman Examples Casablanca (1942) Titanic (1997) Before Sunrise 情留半天 (1995) / Before Sunset 日落巴黎 (2004) Other examples in Comedy (Romantic Comedy)

Thriller / Suspense: 

Thriller / Suspense 懸疑片 A suspenseful adventure story The hero of a typical thriller faces danger alone or in a company of a small band of companions To promote intense excitement, a high level of anticipation, uncertainty, anxiety, and nerve-wracking tension Examples: Psycho The Silence of the Lambs 沉默的羔羊 (1991) / Hannibal 沉默的殺機 (2001) The Sixth Sense 鬼眼 (1999)


Musical Several songs sung by the characters are interwoven into the narrative Examples: Chicago (2002) Evita 貝隆夫人 (1996), also a biography (傳記) Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas 怪誕城之夜 (1993), also an animation and a black comedy


Idea 題材: Theme (主題) & Element (素材) Original (原創) Adaptation (改編) Idea can be grabbed from Personal Experience Current Affairs History Adaptation

36 Dramatic Situations: 

36 Dramatic Situations The 36 Dramatic Situations was created by Georges Polti to categorize every dramatic situation which might occur in a story The list was created as an aid for writers, but it has become popular with dramatists, storytellers and many others A book on these 36 situations was written in the 19th century

36 Dramatic Situations (1-6): 

36 Dramatic Situations (1-6) Supplication (祈願) a Persecutor; a Supplicant; a Power in authority, whose decision is doubtful. Deliverance (救濟) an Unfortunate; a Threatener; a Rescuer Crime pursued by vengeance (因復仇而犯罪) an Avenger; a Criminal Vengeance taken for kin upon kin (骨肉間之復仇) an Avenging Kinsman; Guilty Kinsman; remembrance of the Victim, a relative of both Pursuit (逃亡) Punishment; a Fugitive Disaster (災難) a Vanquished Power; a Victorious Enemy or a Messenger

36 Dramatic Situations (7-12): 

36 Dramatic Situations (7-12) Falling prey to cruelty/misfortune (殘酷遭遇) an Unfortunate; a Master or a Misfortune Revolt (反抗) a Tyrant (暴君); a Conspirator (陰謀者) Daring enterprise (壯舉) a Bold Leader; an Object; an Adversary Abduction (誘騙) an Abductor; the Abducted; a Guardian The enigma (謎) an Interrogator; a Seeker; a Problem Obtaining (爭取) through any method, try to obtain an object / a people’s belonging and/or etc.

36 Dramatic Situations (13-18): 

36 Dramatic Situations (13-18) Enmity of kin (骨肉/兄弟間之怨恨) a Malevolent Kinsman; a Hatred or a reciprocally-hating Kinsman Rivalry of kin (骨肉/兄弟間之爭寵/對立) the Preferred Kinsman; the Rejected Kinsman; the Object of Rivalry Murderous adultery (姦殺) two Adulterers; a Betrayed Spouse Madness (精神失常) a Madman; a Victim Fatal imprudence (鹵莽) the Imprudent; a Victim or an Object Lost Involuntary crimes of love (因愛而不自覺犯罪) a Lover; a Beloved; a Revealer (啟導者)

36 Dramatic Situations (19-24): 

36 Dramatic Situations (19-24) Slaying of kin unrecognized (不自覺的骨肉相殘) the Slayer; an Unrecognized Victim Self-sacrifice for an ideal (為理想自我犧牲) a Hero; an Ideal; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed Self-sacrifice for kin (為骨肉自我犧牲) a Hero; a Kinsman; a Creditor or a Person/Thing sacrificed All sacrificed for passion (為情犧牲) a Lover; an Object of fatal Passion; the Person/Thing sacrificed Necessity of sacrificing loved ones (犧牲所愛的人) a Hero; a Beloved Victim; the Necessity for the Sacrifice Rivalry of superior v. inferior (鬥爭) a Superior Rival; an Inferior Rival; the Object of Rivalry

36 Dramatic Situations (25-30): 

36 Dramatic Situations (25-30) Adultery (通姦) two Adulterers; a Deceived Spouse Crimes of love (因愛而犯罪) a Lover; the Beloved Discovery of the dishonour of a loved one (發現所愛的人之不名譽) a Discoverer; the Guilty One Obstacles to love (愛的阻礙) two Lovers; an Obstacle An enemy loved (敵我之間的戀愛) a Lover; the Beloved Enemy; the Hater Ambition (野心) an Ambitious Person; a Thing Coveted; an Adversary

36 Dramatic Situations (31-36): 

36 Dramatic Situations (31-36) Conflict with a god (人神之爭) a Mortal; an Immortal Mistaken jealousy (錯誤的妒忌) a Jealous One; an Object of whose Possession He is Jealous; a Cause or an Author of the Mistake Erroneous judgement (錯誤的判斷) a Mistaken One; a Victim of the Mistake; a Cause or Author of the Mistake; the Guilty One Remorse (悔恨) a Culprit (犯人); a Victim or the Sin; an Interrogator (質問者) Recovery of a lost one (骨肉重逢) a Seeker; the One Found Loss of loved ones (失去所愛的人) a Kinsman Slain; a Kinsman Spectator; an Executioner


References Wikipedia, Cinematic genre, Robert McKee, Story – Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting, Harper Collins, 1997. Georges Polti, Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations, Kessinger Publishing, 2003 (Reprint)

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