Genre Analysis – Drama
Drama as a genre is quite simplistic compared to other genres,it is based around the emotional and
relational development of realistic characters. Drama film relies heavily on this kind of development,
however it is important to note that dramatic themes play a large role in the plot as well. Often, these
dramatic themes are taken from intense, real life issues. This means that a large number of drama
films are based on true stories. Whether heroes or heroines are facing a conflict from the outside or a
conflict within themselves, Drama film aims to tell an honest story of human struggles.
A few of the main, top grossing and most well-known drama films ever made are:
The Shawshank Redemption - A former banker convicted of murdering his wife develops a
lifelong friendship with a fellow prisoner, only he knows he didn’t commit the crimes.
The Godfather – Crime drama - The aging patriarch of an organized crime circle must secure
the future of his family’s empire by leaving it in the hands of his reluctant son.
Casablanca - A jaded nightclub owner must choose whether or not to help his ex-lover and
her husband flee Nazi-occupied Morocco.
Common plot devices in drama film
At the heart of drama is tension and conflict. There is usually large scale social interaction between
characters with then a dramatic climax that creates a lot of attention. Drama films are structured to
keep the audience’s attention throughout the film. To achieve this effect,they films usually contain
multiple climax’s and anti-climax’s so that there are peaks and sudden changes in tension. This can be
done by changing emotions, making us feelbadly about a character,killing a character,or simply
adding slow motion effects can add drama. This retains the possession of the viewers’ attention at all
The conventions (techniques) ofdrama
I found that there were a few main components that made a drama film recognisably dramatic. Most
of the techniques are completely technical, and be done with editing and camera work. Some are
character based. These are:
Exhibits reallife situations with realistic characters,settings and stories.
Shows journeys of character development
The main plot of drama is conflict
The audience are able to relate the characters and situations.
Usually a positive outcome/ending
Structured with multiple climaxes and anti-climax’s.
There are lots of companies that produce high quality drama films, however there are a few that stand
out to make the most well-known and ’best’ films in the drama genre.
Paramount Pictures – Creator of the Godfather, the most well-known drama film to date, they have
risen to the top of film production. They went on to make Titanic, Forest Gump and Iron-man and
many more top grossing films.
Columbia Pictures – Creator of the Shawshank Redemption, a $28 million grossing film. With their
focus on brilliant storylines, CGI and animation they went on to create Ghostbusters, Pixels, Spider-
man 3 and The Smurfs.
Protagonist vs Antagonist
Protagonists in drama - A protagonist is the central character or leading figure in poetry, narrative,
novel or any other story. A protagonist is sometimes called a “hero” by the audience or readers. The
audience are able to relate with this character,and supposed to like this character.
Antagonist in drama - An antagonist is a character or a group of characters which stand in opposition
to the protagonist or the main character. – Usually a ‘’bad guy’’ in the film, someone who the
audience is supposed to dislike.
Crime drama – Generally follows a character involved in criminal activity or law enforcement/ legal
system. It is one of the most popular film genres as it usually includes high speed police chases or
murder mysteries. It is engaging because it explorers race,gender, criminality and social / cultural
factors. A good example is The Godfather, it’s a classic crime drama.
Comedy drama – A drama film that has an equal, or close to equal balance of humour and serious
content. It creates a very diverse film that can make the audience laugh one moment, then change their
emotion in the space of a scene. A popular example of a comedy drama is 50/50, it contains the
correct balance between humour and serious content, and makes for a very enjoyable film.
Melodrama – Uses plots that appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience. These films often put
the character in danger to appeal to the emotions of the audience. Melodramatic plots often deal with
crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, tragedy, illness, or emotional and physical
hardship. (often including a centralfemale character) that would directly appeal to feminine
audiences. Also called tearjerkers, or "chick flicks".
History ofthe Drama genre
Early years – 1940’S - In the 1940’s film was just discovering its roots, therefore sub-genre
pantomime styled melodrama / silent films were most popular. In 1940 Films like The grapes of wrath
show the effects of the depression in America. Like most films it was quite realistic and current,
which made the 1940’s audience even more engrossed in this new media form.
The 1950s – The film industry was evolving and so we saw the grown of key dramatic
actors/actressessuch as; Montgomery Clift, Bette Davis, and Marilyn Monroe. Dramatic Films
focused on character relationships and development, more similar to the convections of drama
films of the 20th
century. All About Eve (1950) focused on women, and their relationship with
men. RebelWithout a Cause (1955) displayed teenage angst. The 1950’s saw an influx in film
The 1970’s - Modern dramatic directors made some of their first films during this decade. Francis
Ford Coppola directed The Godfather (1972). • Martin Scorsese directed Taxi Driver (1976), Mean
Streets (1973), and musical drama New York,New York (1977). • Sylvester Stallone created one of
the most successfulsports drama franchises with Rocky (1976) and also directed the sequel Rocky II
(1979). War films and specifically World War II films were produced, giving the most realistic
adaptation of the war seen in films at that time. This of course,much like the current films of the
1940’s, engrossed a whole audience to see the truths of war. Such as: Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970) Patton
(1970) • Apocalypse Now (1979) which all show the trials and hardships of war. A lot of the films
produced in this decade are considered world classics, especially The Godfather which has been
named the most iconic of all the drama films ever created.
The 1990s – This again, much like the films in the 70’s saw some of the most iconic films ever
created,including an influx in crime dramas such as; Goodfellas (1990) The Shawshank Redemption
(1994), Schindler's List (1993). Drama film producers also tried its hand at existentialist thrillers
creating Fight Club (1999). More comedy-drama films were featured with films like Forrest Gump
(1994) and As Good as It Gets (1997). These films set the bar higher for film producers, to produce
even more thrilling content.
Current box office Popularity
These filmsare grossingfrom$330 - $659 millioneach,
whichcomparedto previousbox office sensationsof the
past isincredible. Forexampleone of the biggestfilmsof
90’s, The ShawshankRedemption, hadaworldwide profit
only $58,500,000 to date. And the godfather,one of the
mostcriticallyacclaimeddramafilmsof all time,hada
worldwide profitof $245,066,411. AmericanSniper(2014)
more than quadrupledthe profitof The Shawshank
Redemption. Thistellsusalotabout the growthof the
Clearlyboththe filmindustryingeneral andthe popularity
of dramafilmshave grownincrediblyinthe lastdecade.
The top 10 listfeaturedonthe leftshowsthaton average
the filmsproducedinthe last10 yearshave done better
than those of previousyears,besidesthe box office killers;
Titanicand The Lion King.Thisisbecause more people in
recentyearsconsume more films,andalarger proportion
of those filmsthaninpreviousyearsare drama films.
Those that grossedthe mostinclude HarryPotterand the
DeathlyHallows:Part2 (2011), The HungerGames (2012)
and the Dark Knight(2008). This isbecause theyare all
actiondramas, theykeeppeopleonthe edge of their
seatsand recentstudies have shownthatpeopleprefer
these sortsof filmsoverothergenres.
All informationanddatatakenfromIMDB and Box Office
Mojo correct to January2016.