Genre is a French word meaning ‘type’ and film genres have existed since the early days of
cinema. However, while the use of genre has a long history in film, it has a far longer general
history which dates back to Ancient Greece, at which time Aristotle categorised theatre plays by
type. Nowadays most cultural production, be it television, magazines, music, painting or literature,
ends up being assigned to one genre or another. In all cases what makes a genre possible is the
existence of common elements or conventions across a range of productions. In other words, it
is the identification of repetition across a series of productions that results in them being
described as a particular type.
Daniel Chandler: '...Genres...constitute conventions of themes settings, structure and style that
are shared by texts...'
Steve Neale: ‘…genres are instances of repetition and difference…’
ACTIVITY 1: How many different genres can you identify? Give an example of a film from
Genre Example of film Genre Example of film
Star Wars IV: A New Hope
Romeo + Juliet
The Nightmare before Christmas
Lord of the Rings
Shaun of the Dead
Friday the 13th
ACTIVITY 2: Identify the genre of the films shown below. Is there anything on the poster that
helps you decide?
Action Comedy – Expendables seems
like a film that involves the clichés of
Gangster– the coloursof
the image and the fontof
the title showsthatthisis a
cliché usedforany film
basedon an Italianmafia.
Horror – We see a girl who could be the
main victim in this movie as she looks
slightlysweatyasif she’sbeenscaredor as
if she’s been running. The cabin is
surrounded by a dark filter that suggest
that the cabin is a bad place.
War – The characters on the
greyscale of the postershows
that thisisan eventfromthe
Romance – The two
characters on the poster are
placed very close to one
another to show that they
have a strong relationship
between them. The colours
used on the title suggest that
the story isn’t as light-hearted
as other romances and could
Western– Lookingat the
characters onthe poster,
youcan tell thatthismovie
isa westernbecause of the
type of clothingtheywear
and alsoby the propsthey
are holding.The colourof
the title suggestthatitis a
If we take several films from a particular genre we would expect to see similarities in a number of
different areas. We can call these genre conventions. Nick Lacey called these a ‘repertoire of
elements’. These are built upon audience expectations about:
Style (technical/audio codes)
The Main Genres of film are:
ACTIVITY 3: Look at each of the following genres and list the sorts of expectations that you
would have for each. Think about Lacey’s repertoire of elements:
Style (technical/audio codes)
Gangster An Italian style area where you expect the mafia to hide-out in. An area that looks very
poor for the more street age gangsters.
Suits may be used for the Italian mafia and sports jackets/hoodies for the street gangs.
Equipment may not be as modern for a mafia whilst newer guns will be used for street
Gangs. Equipment such as knuckle dusters could be used for both.
For Italian gangsters there will be the older man that rules the mob (like Marlon Brando)
and a bunch of stereotypically named Italians that do as the boss says. A group of young
men and women that all treat each other equally and no one seems to really be in control, these
characters are often divided into the hot-headed guys with guns, the mouthy girls
and the ones that prefer to stab their enemies (Noel Clarke’s Hood trilogy is a good
example of this.).
One setting for a mafia movie could be a house that has a beautifully designed interior
with a variety of decorations that make the place look like it belongs in the 1920s. One
setting for the street would be a back alley where a gang would stay and share drugs or
stories of their last kill and steal.
Both may follow the same path of a deal gone wrong, this will mean they have to take
revenge and get what they wanted, all this leading to a final stand-off. On its own the
mafia may just have a grudge on a rival gang and devise a plan to bring them all down
whilst also trying to make a name for themselves.
Horror Dark backgrounds, empty areas, a woods that seems infinite.
Loud noises throughout to scare the protagonists and the audience, the use of hand held cameras
look corrupted and pixelate a lot and slow cuts in tense situations.
A defenceless female protagonist that ends up being the last character to either escape
or get killed to, a love interest that the female protagonist loses due to being killed and a mysteriou
monster that is on the hunt for teenagers.
This can be set in an abandoned building that is somehow in a small are of the woods, An area wh
there is a lot of woodland so the protagonist(s) can’t escape easily or a
normal household that is haunted.
The protagonist(s) enter an empty woodland, they start getting suspicious, the monster that is hunt
them stars killing, protagonists run away and they all end up dying.
Musical Colourful world with instruments and well-dressed people.
A lot of the movie will include loud music to fill the background and voices that accompany i
Great singers that are undiscovered and are trying to show people that they are worthy of
Green land, A mansion, An American High school.
A young girl is trying to find a chance to show that she is a great singer and joins a
competition to become the best.
Science fiction Blue/white tints for the atmosphere of space, tech everywhere.
Unrealistic sounds of ships zooming through the universe, buzzing sounds for guns.
Hero with futuristic tech, enemy that has robotic army.
Other planets, space ships, alternate reality.
The protagonist becomes a part of a team, a threat becomes obvious, protagonist is sent
to help this threat, threat is destroyed, protagonist becomes hero.
Action Guns, explosions, fast cars, dead bodies.
Bangs, thuds, panning shots, cross cuts.
Agent (with a licence to kill), a mysterious enemy that no one knows anything about.
Around the world, hot countries, snowy countries.
Agent is sent on a mission to take down the enemy, Agent meets a girl along the way, the
girl isn’t safe as the enemy kidnaps her, agent saves the day and kills or imprisons the
Using the internet and notes research genre theory.
Write a couple of paragraphs explaining what genre theoryis, giving examples of genre and conventions.
Add this as an introduction to the work you have already started, describing the genre and story of Leon.
Genre theory is the understanding that every genre has repetitive story themes whilst also adding a twist
to fit the message of the movie and to try and stay away from being a hard copy of another movie’s
message. Fitting examples of movies that share similar conventions whilst also dividing themselves from
each other. For sci-fi the movies that are similar are The Matrix and INCEPTION; these movies make it
hard for the characters to understand what is fake and what is reality but one of the concepts that
separate the two movies is that in The Matrix, the characters are either in a simulated world or in the real
world but in INCEPTON the characters could be dreaming or they could be awake, but still, the both films
confuse the audience as well as the characters in the movie. For horror: Friday the 13th
and Unfriended. In
Friday the 13th
and Unfriended all the characters are getting picked off one by one. Jason Voorhees
) kills on a camp site for his mother to avenge her death, whilst in Unfriended an internet ghost is
killing out of revenge for the times she was bullied, the bullying originally caused her to commit suicide
and that’s why she roams the internet. At the end of both movies, everyone is dead.
The film Leon is an action thriller based on an Italian man who has come to New York to work for an old
friend as a hitman that takes down people that are contracted to him by a client. The film starts with a
scene where Leon is sent to take down a smartly dressed drug dealer team that has gone against his
boss. After Leon has dealt with the man he goes home but on his way is greeted by a 14-year-old girl that
looks depressed about something. Leon speaks to the girl for a few seconds but then leaves to his
apartment. Suddenly a mysterious enemy is brought to light and Leon is eventually sent to stop it.
The mise en scene of Leon includes guns, melee weapons, fancy old cars, New York taxi cabs and nicely
decorated buildings. For sound, the film Leon uses the banging of gun shots and explosions which made
use of amplified sound (which was relatively new at the time), it also includes a lot of dialogue and a
mixture of dramatic and calming music. Within the editing of Leon, we see a lot of cross cuts to show each
sides view (good and bad) on an event and slow paced editing when there is no action going on between
those two sides. The movie makes great use of camera angles to fit a scene’s theme as it runs through to
give it the right atmosphere and such camera angles were close ups or extreme close ups when trying to
make the setting of the scene claustrophobic.
A western action comedy that follows the story of a group of morally good Cowboys that
are brought together to form a proper team that can defend the little western town. The
team are working for a woman who has witnessed the death of a loved one, caused by a
bad guy who ‘Takes what he wants.’. The team work with this woman to take the enemy
down and eliminate anyone who works for this man as revenge for her. Revolvers are the
guns used, as they are in many westerns. All hero characters wear the stereotypical attire
for cowboys in western movies. Horses are a common form of transport in the film when
the team have to reach a faraway destination. The movie contains warm colours to match
the setting and make an audience feel like they are right there in the desert. The film all
round is a traditional western and does not mix with science fiction or post-apocalyptic
films like ‘Star Wars’ or ‘Mad Max’.
Magnificent Seven of course a western. The film uses the theme of revenge as it’s plot which is a
recurring style for westerns to run with. The props for the mise én scene are very normal for a
western to have with guns and bullet belts that create the character’s style and personality. One
difference from a standard western is that there is more than just one character as the hero, The
lone ranger. Instead of having one lead, there are seven leading characters, as the name of the
film suggests. Similar to the heroes, the villain of the movie has a team working with him, but they
are more like an army than a small team. The end of the movie is standard for a western where
there is a tight situation that means that the hero(es) have to stand-off against the big bad-guy and