How genre is important in understanding film texts.

Essay by griddymcbriddyUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, March 2007

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Within this essay I will attempt to explain, how genre is important in understanding film texts.

The word genre comes from the French word for 'kind' or 'class'. Basically, I like to think that genre is a type of shortcut in how we can describe films. It is widely used in media world, and is a means of classifying that enables us to group together films according to narrative and film style, which include instantly recognisable storylines, settings, costume, characters and structure. For example, if we see scenes of a cowboy sat on a dusty horse and getting involved in gunfights, we will instantly recognise this as a western and we will instantly know if we like or dislike this particular genre. Genre has become a logo of sorts for marking which films certain people may want to see. Rick Altman says,

"according to most critics, genres provide the formulas that drives production; genres constitute the structures that define individual texts; programming decisions are based primarily on generic criteria; the interpretation of generic films depends directly on the audience's generic expectations".

(Altman 2000: 14)

There are several main genres which include gangster, drama, epic, horror, sci fi, western, action and adventure. Again with any one of these genres we instantly recognise what we expect from them. The comedy genre is designed to amuse, entertain and provoke enjoyment. When going to see a film of this kind, our mind


will be set for characters which are totally unreal and involved with situations that will be humorously exaggerated. With this type of genre we do not expect anything that will lead us into serious thought afterwards. The same can be said for action films, we don't have to mentally prepare ourselves for a complicated story line; we do however prepare...