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Genre In Film Essay, Research Paper


Development of Film I

Writing Assignment 1

Spring 96

March 19, 1996


gen+re (zh n+re) noun

1. A type or class: “Emaciated famine victims . . . on television focused a new genre of attention on the continent” (Helen Kitchen).

2. a. A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, marked by a distinctive style, form, or content: “his six String Quartets . . . the most important works in the genre since Beethoven’s” (Time). b. A realistic style of painting that depicts scenes from everyday life.

[French, from Old French, kind, from Latin genus, gener-.]

Genre as a style of an artwork has been around since the man first created plays and visual art. As a word, it came from France, around 16th century, but was used in a bit different sense. It represented realism in art. Later in history, due to gradual civilization of human kind, genre broadened it’s meaning, since styles and fashions has changed and widened. I believe that the first two styles where tragedy and comedy(satire).

In Hollywood genre became one of the most used tools to select, or aim on certain audiences. Actors and directors were branded, subconsciously, by the audiences. Characters played by certain actors, would stay in peoples heads as actors themselves. Directors that made a film in one genre usually had to stick with it in order to attract audiences. People demanded standards, for they hate to be confused.

One of the greatest artists to work in genre was Charles Chaplin. He felt comedy like no-one else. He became a symbol of comedy for millions, and still is. When people went to see Chaplin’s movies, they expected to laugh.

The thirst to generalize and group has given some hilarious effects in more “serious” films. Let’s take Westerns for example: there are very few Westerns that don’t have a little “too-lu-lu” in the city plaza scene. In horror films certain attributes, like a hint of ‘evil still alive’ in the end, or ‘boots’ in detective movies became a label, because viewer is mostly lazy and glad to see something familiar, or something that he/she was expecting.

Genre is very helpful for the industry of film. It helps to categorize movies, and to make sure that people will see what they want to see. Walking into any video rental will clarify this statement. It also helps directors and screenplay writers to write and produce the movie that will be right for the time of the year, economical mood, politics and fashion–making sure that it will sell.

There is always a dark side to any good factor. Genre has ‘killed’ many artists who tried to work in a new style. Audiences were displeased, because they saw something they didn’t expect. The above mentioned Chaplin had encountered this problem when sound came out in 1927, and when he tried to do a drama type of a movie. In the modern time, many actors suffer from changing their genre–they do not get recognized in new fields, causing negative responses from critics. The good example of that would be Patrick Swayze and Wesley Snipes in “To Wong Fu”. Two actors, one working in action, another in romantic/action starring in a ‘Drag-flick’. It worked as a shock, but didn’t bring much success to the actors.

Industry dependent on genre films suffers from lack of creativity on the style part. There can’t be something completely out-of-the-ordinary. Most of the time the artist doesn’t wish to brake out of the frames, and smack the viewer in the face (after all, the viewer is the one who is paying). Genre makes the artist somewhat cuffed, restricts the freedom. On the other hand, it makes the artist more creative in terms of jumping out of the frame but not braking it. It’s like a spring, the more force is applied to it, the more force the spring releases in resistance.

I believe that genre is a “perfect” technique for the film in United States. For the well trained American audiences genre is the way to go. Any changes in tradition would bring tremendous losses–financial, as well as ‘fanatial’. Movie goers would give up trying to figure out what to see, and eventually create their own genres to identify and classify the films.


The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Third Edition copyright 1992 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Electronic version licensed from InfoSoft International, Inc. All rights reserved.

Microsoft Encarta 96 Encyclopedia. 1993-1995 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

To Wong Fu, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar

Wesley Snipes, Patrick Swayze and John Leguizamo

DIR-Beeban Kidron LEAD-Wesley Snipes RT-108 mins.

Copyright 1995 by Cineman Syndicate

This paper is strongly opinionated, and should be read as such. Opinions are strictly author’s. Any resemblance to other sources is not intentional.

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