Cinematographic and literary genres

I’ve been talking about films for a while now, but I’ve never written an article about genres as such, because I wasn’t really paying attention until then. I was told that such and such a film was part of such and such a genre and I said “Okey”!
I don’t like to put artistic works in cases, but we must recognize that certain films or books respect codes which are specific to their genre, and we will see why.

Why classify films by genre?

There are two ways to approach the question of gender:

  • Either we have the film and then we have the genre:

The director thinks he wants to make a film and then it’s up to the theaters, the producers, see the spectators to give it a genre.

George Mélies, in directing “Voyage dans la Lune”, didn’t think he was going to make a sci-fi movie, for good reason the genre didn’t exist yet.

  • Either we have the genre first and then we have the movie:

The director will say to himself, I am going to make an action film (for example) and create his film based on the genre

But which came first the chicken or the egg? What is the relationship between the egg, the chicken and science fiction?

I am deeply convinced that in the first place there were films and the more they were, the more we could see similarities appear, first borrowed from other art forms, until the appearance of similarities which were specific to them.

In 1903, “The great train robbery” was released, a film where cowboys steal a train in the American West.
In 1914, “Squaw Man” was released, a film about an English officer who was to marry an Indian in the American West.
In 1916, “Hell’s Hinges” tells the story of a cowboy who falls in love with an outlaw in the American West

From there, the audience thought, “It would still be handy if we had a name for all of our films with cowboys and Indians in the American West!” “
As for the producers, they say to themselves: “I would like to make a film with cowboys and Indians in the American West, but I would like to bring something else to it”
And you get the need to name: The Western.
The label is for the public to say, “I’ll be fine watching a Western.” “, So that the cinema can say:” We offer you a Western. “, But above all so that the directors can say to themselves” I want to do a Western. “
Genre cinema was born.

The genre film is a film in which the genre is creative. It is a film that will take into account the codes of a genre, to exploit them, to divert them, to satisfy or deceive the expectations of the viewer. Because when we talk about gender in the cinema, we are talking about the spectator’s expectations.

But how are genres defined? Well, it’s something very vague and often the same movie can have several genres. To make this article I used several criteria.

How to define a genre?

For me there are 4 elements that define the genre of a film:

  1. The tone of the film
  2. The themes of the film
  3. The scenario (by its structure or concerning certain elements only)
  4. The target of the film

Some people use the format of the film, but for me, it’s a mistake.

When you see the animated film category on certain sites, it makes as much sense to me as black and white films or silent films or even cinema scope films. It doesn’t ring a bell about the movie you’re going to watch.
A genre that brings together under the same label:

“The Emoji Movie”, “Akira”, “Persepolis” and “The Lord of the Ring” (1978)
It’s a label that is useless.

Among its four elements, some will have practically binding conditions, established rules that cannot be broken, but these are often very broad rules.
In the family genre, the only essential element is related to the tone, it must be accessible and viewable to children without bothering parents. Yes, it is fuzzy and arbitrary!

Why are “Maleficent” from 2014 and “Night at the Museum” Home movies and not “Pirates of the Caribbean” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” from 2014 are not?


In the Crime genre we have an imperative that falls within the scenario. There has to be one or more crimes, or criminality, and this crime, these crimes, this criminality has to be a big issue in the scenario.

The viewer, when going to see a family or crime genre film, has other expectations, but these are optional. It reveals codes of the genre.

Watching a crime film, I think police, charismatic villain, dark film that happens mostly at night, where the characters are lonely and a little disillusioned.


When people talk to me about family films, I think colorful film, light tone and happy ending, creepy antagonist but just right, brave protagonists.

But when you watch “Home Alone” or “The Mask” you realize that his films fall under the Crime genre and do not have at all that atmosphere that I imagine.

Much like “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One” or “Coraline” doesn’t tick all the boxes I imagine when I am told a family movie, especially when it comes to the creepy antagonists but not too many!

Brrrr

But the four of them have in common that they respect The indispensable condition which allows them to belong to the family gender.

Finally last detail, the genres are obviously not waterproof. Nothing prevents a film from having a crime theme while including children in its audience:

Indeed a film can belong to several genres:
(Image coco de pixar) (genres: Fantasy, family, adventure, musical)

Ten of my favorite genres (not necessarily in order):

Small methodology point:

I use IMDB to provide me with a list of keywords to add them to a table to sort which appear the most and those that appear the least according to each genre.

Finally, I use Letterbox which organizes the films by genre while prioritizing the genres. Thus “Back to the Future” is classified first as a family film, then as an adventure film, then a comedy and finally as a science fiction film. So Back to the future will fit perfectly into the family genre but a little less than “Interstelllar” for science fiction or “The Big Lebowski” for comedy but still partly corresponds to it.
Finally not only will I tell you about 10 genres but in addition I will tell you about 5 subgenres for each of them.

I/ Historical Movies:

Expectations :

Tone: Serious
Theme: A historic event
Scenario: Depends on the event
Target: Rather adults

Most common keywords:

  1. Based on true story
  2. What happened in Epilogue
  3. Politics
  4. Based on real person
  5. Epic
  6. Husband Wife relationship
  7. Based on book
  8. Battle
  9. Father Son relationship
  10. World War II

Less common keywords:

  1. Psychotronic film
  2. Surprise ending
  3. Cult film
  4. Chase
  5. Cell Phone
  6. Supernatural Power
  7. Kidnapping
  8. Good versus Evil
  9. Sequel
  10. Falling from height

Description:

This is one of the easiest genres to catalog. The facts told must be based on real historical facts. The key word that comes up most often is “based on true history”, but the prerequisite is that it must be based on real historical facts.


In Robbert Eggers’s “The Witch,” is a historical film about colonists who were excommunicated in New England in the 1630s, to whom a whole lot of funny adventures happen. (A whole family dies in misery, resentment, fear and guilt.) But this story is totally fictional, these people never existed.


“Troy” is a historical film when we are not even sure that the Trojan War actually took place.

But his films take place in a context which is based on real historical facts. Conversely, being based on real events is not enough to make a film historic.


“The Social Network” is based on a true story, but is not a historical film. A historical film depicts a state of the world that is no longer today.


“A Beautiful Man”, is a biography of John Forbes Nash, is not tagged as a historical film as it is set between 1947 and 1994.


Whereas “Zero Dark Thirty” which tells the story of the hunt for Bin Laden is a historical film set between 2001 and 2011.
The difference is in the subject. “A Beautiful Man” might as well be set in another era. It is not the indirect portrait of a society, but only the story of a man.

Subgenres:

Biopic:

The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.

Peplum:

The Biopic may or may not belong to the historical genre. As the name suggests a biopic is a biography. The principle is simple, we tell the story of one or more people while more or less romanticizing their lives.

Docudrama:

A sub-genre that is close to documentary, while remaining a work of fiction.

War Movies:

War movies may not have the historical aspects of the conflicts in question, like Disney’s “Mulan” is a war movie without being a historical movie. Often war films are categorized as a genre in their own right.

Swashbuclers:

Genre responding to strict rules, his films must take place in the Middle Ages or the Renaissance, in which a courageous character, almost always male (pity) rebels, sword in hand often against authority. There is often a damsel in distress to save, seduce and / or protect.

II/ Adventure Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: light
Theme: Travel, danger, friendship …
Scenario: good guys, bad guys, happy ending
Target: all public

Most common keywords:

  1. Blockbuster
  2. Rescue
  3. Explosion
  4. Good Versus Evil
  5. Battle
  6. Warrior
  7. Falling From Height
  8. Martial Arts
  9. Action Hero
  10. Male protagonist

Less common keywords:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Female Nudity
  3. Blood
  4. Telephone Call
  5. Husband Wife Relationship
  6. Based On True Story
  7. F word
  8. Blood Splatter
  9. Hospital
  10. Gore

Description:


When we talk about adventure films we immediately think of Indiana Jones or Indiana Jones or … But what is an adventure film that is not Indiana Jones?
The adventure film shares a great deal of reference with action cinema. If we look at the keywords that come up most often in both cases, we find:

  • Rescue
  • Explosions
  • Warrior
  • Good versus evil

But if we look at the key words that separate them, we have on the action side elements of violence while on the adventure side, we have elements related to interpersonal relationships and especially “exotic” elements, disorienting. Either things that do not exist like magic or monsters, or places like, a forest, a castle, cave … I deduce that the essential element in the adventure film, is a certain level of disorientation of the viewer but to a lesser extent, the viewer will expect a lighter film, more all public than for any other genre. Some key words that are relatively less present to qualify this kind of film bear witness to this:

  • F word
  • Gore
  • Blood splash
  • Female nudity
  • Smoking cigarettes

Adventure films are generally more consensual, and many recent superhero films are labeled adventure before sci-fi and action.
It’s very hard to find a movie that just has the adventure label, but here are a few subgenres that almost always have it.

Subgenres:

Swashbuclers:

A protagonist who wields a sword and has a big mouth! You cannot conceive of a Swashbuckler with a pistol or who would face it.
We find “Pirates of the Caribbean” or even films of an Asian genre: the Chambara.

These are samurai films, one of his most famous examples of which is “Seven Samurai” by the great Kurosawa.

Road Movies:

These are films in which, or more often, the protagonists are on the road. Very American kind, the highways are a metaphor for freedom.

Treasure hunting movies:


Film characterized by fairly obvious elements of the scenario, finding or rediscovering one or more things …

Disaster films:


What could be more exotic than imagining the world falling apart?

Pirates Movies:


As long as it’s about pirates, it’s a pirate movie.

III/ Action Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: from very light to very serious
Theme: revenge, conflict, violence, gun …
Scenario: Good guys, bad guys, bad guys.
Target: mostly men.

Most common keywords:

  1. Shootout
  2. Pistol
  3. Explosion
  4. Machin Gun
  5. Martial Arts
  6. Fistlight
  7. Shot in the chest
  8. Tough guy
  9. Gun fight
  10. Hand to hand combat

Less common keyword:

  1. Crying
  2. Mother son relationship
  3. Dancing
  4. Family relationship
  5. Marriage
  6. Singing
  7. Telephone call
  8. Friend
  9. Based on true story
  10. Mother daughter relationship

Description:

It is less about action than violence, but violence is not enough to define action cinema. Many horror films are violent without necessarily being action films. The main characteristic of an action film is a fast pace. The spectator must be kept in suspense by the chain of events embodied by a confrontation between two entities.

Subgenres:

Super hero movies:


Superhero films that are not action films are extremely rare. Indeed, who says super hero says super villains and super clashes.
In these films, the main protagonist possesses extraordinary abilities and uses them to do good.

Martial Art Movies:


The genre includes all karate and kung fu films …

Wuxia:


Very Asian genre if there is one, these are fantastic films where a character will suffer a tragic loss and begin an initiatory journey during which he will become a powerful warrior following the path of Xia (the path of the warrior / hero / vigilante) ), with a sword.

Adaptation of video games into film:


You have to believe that the studios believe that gamers can only enjoy action movies.
Detective Pikachu: Puzzle Games = Action Movie
Final fantasy IIV: Japanese role-playing games = action movie
Resident Evil: Survival horror = action movie
I’m exaggerating a bit but not by much.

Spy Movie:


Indispensable condition, it has to be about spies, but the public will more or less expect a James Bond clone with his gadgets, big, very nasty corporations and a nice spy who plays it, over equipped and over trained. that infiltrates their headquarters.

IV/ Thrillers

Expectations:

  • Tone: Serious, heavy
  • Theme: Murder, mystery, threat, investigation …
  • Scenario: The outcome is very important
  • Target: Adult

Most common keywords:

  1. Murder
  2. Pistol
  3. Shot to death
  4. Shot in the chest
  5. Blood splatter
  6. Death
  7. Blood
  8. Neo Noir
  9. Shoutout
  10. Corps

Less common keywords:

  1. Battle
  2. Sword
  3. Friendship
  4. Sword fight
  5. Horse
  6. Singing
  7. Male protagpnist
  8. Epic
  9. Combat
  10. Monster

Description:

Where action movies hold viewers’ attention with adrenaline, thrillers do so with suspense.
Overall you need a heavy atmosphere, the thriller goes with almost all genres but not with comedy, and suspense.
But what makes thrillers different from horror movies?
In the horror film, the protagonists are overwhelmed by the events there or in the thrillers, the protagonists are more active in overcoming their adventures.

Subgenres:

The Psychological Thriller:


In the psychological thriller, the danger is not so much to lose your life as to lose your sanity.

Polars:

Genre taken from literature, includes all films whose plot is detective.
You can group together gangster films and black films.

Complotist Thrillers:

The movies where the hero finds out that the truth is not as he thinks it is and that anyone could know about it and try to silence him.

The Technothrillers:


Close to science fiction, the plot of these thrillers is based on scientific advances in military or spy circles.

Giallo:


A genre that could also be classified as horror cinema, since it is the precursor of the slasher. Gialli (plural of Giallo) are films where usually several women are murdered by a killer whose identity is unknown to the viewer. It was a very popular genre in the 1970s, and the undisputed master of which was Dario Argento.

V/ Horror Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: dark
Theme: Death, anguish, torture, paranormal …
Scenario: unhappy end, only one stake: survival
Target: Adolescent, adult.

Most common keywords:

  1. Gore
  2. Blood
  3. Psychologitronic film
  4. Grindhouse film
  5. Blood splatter
  6. Corpse
  7. Supernatural power
  8. Murder
  9. Fear
  10. Surprise ending

Less common keywords:

  1. Battle
  2. Blockbuster
  3. Hand to hand combat
  4. Martial arts
  5. Hero
  6. Shoutout
  7. Based on true story
  8. Combat
  9. Action hero
  10. Fistfight

Description:


I often hear people say: “I don’t like horror movies, they don’t scare me. “
Well that’s okay, horror movies aren’t primarily intended to be scary! Otherwise, you wouldn’t classify horror comedies like “Shawn of the dead.”
A horror film centers on something that arouses repulsion or anguish.

Subgenres:

Slasher:


One person kills there one by one, a group of individuals, until the final confrontation.

Splatter Movies:


These are films that show physical mutilations and often theatrics to make them more impressive.

Found Footages:


Sub-genre which relates to the format, these are films that are not presented as productions, but as the event montage actually shot by the protagonists.

The New French Extremism:


These films have sexual assault and extreme violence in common, but they also deal with mental disorders that can go as far as delirium.

Kaiju Eiga:


Movies about gigantic creatures that attack the city. They are rarely horror movies because humans are often insignificant in them.

VI/ Science-Fiction:

Expectations:

Tone: Variable
Theme: Science, future, space, technology
Scenario: Variable
Target: Variable

Most common keywords:

  1. Scientist
  2. Explosion
  3. Psychotronic film
  4. Alien
  5. Outer space
  6. Hologram
  7. Future
  8. Surprise ending
  9. Laboratory
  10. Spaceship

Less common keywords:

  1. Based on true story
  2. Singing
  3. Husband wife relationship
  4. Marriage
  5. Horse
  6. Dancing
  7. Singer
  8. Telephone call
  9. Song
  10. Cigarette smoking

Description:


A sci-fi movie takes place in another reality and where things are not happening in ours. Science fiction differs from fantasy by providing more or less scientific explanations.
In Star Wars, ships, lightsabers and robots are science fiction, but strength is totally related to fantasy.

Space-Opera:


Epic tales highlighting the relationships between the characters in relatively detailed political universes against a backdrop of space travel.

Punk Movies:


Nothing to do with the music that smells of beer! They are futuristic or retro-futuristic films (which has to do with a way of imagining the future in the past).
Cyber punk a genre where computers and robotics are highlighted, as in “Matrix” or “Ghost in the Shell”,
steam punk is a genre where machines and industry are showcased: “Metropolis”, “The city of Lost Children” …
Biopunk, the living becomes an omnipresent technology: “eXistenz”, “Gattaca” …

Hard SF:


It is a genre of science fiction that only allows itself to extrapolate a future on the basis of solid science. The only fanciful elements are the elements that are new or that we do not know in our reality.

Soft SF:

When the explanations given contradict the laws of physics.
A lazer saber is impossible because the light is neither solid nor finite (so the sabers could not collide and the blade would have no end.)

Psychotronic Movies:


In 1980 Michael Weldon published a magazine “Psychotronic Video” in which he spoke about cinema, then in 1983 he released “The Psychotronic Encyvlopedia of Film”.
He gives a definition and a list of 3000 films, much of which does not correspond to the definition, but an IMDB user had the delicacy of writing a definition that was both sufficiently vague and precise enough to consider it valid. .

Psychotronic movies can be sci-fi, horror, or fantasy. These are films that think outside the box, that try to break free from conventions. Films that dare to be different: “Videodrome”, “Delicatessen”, “Solaris”.

VII/ Fantasy:

Expectations:

Tone: Epic, rather light
Theme: Magic, courage, nobility, good guys against bad guys …
Screenplay: Screenplay in three classic acts
Target: everyone

Most common keywords:

  1. Magic
  2. Surrealism
  3. Sword
  4. Supernatural power
  5. Good versus Evil
  6. Monster
  7. Sword fight
  8. Castle
  9. Transformation
  10. Lifting someone into the air

Less common keywords:

  1. Pistol
  2. Murder
  3. Shot to death
  4. Based on true story
  5. Machin gun
  6. Shot in the head
  7. Hellicopter
  8. Blood
  9. Shootout
  10. Hold at gunpoint

Description:


A film that takes place in another reality and where things are happening that are impossible in ours, without justification.
Not to be confused with the fantastic, a genre or the supernatural, the strange comes into the real world
Also not to be confused with the wonderful, kind or impossible things in the real world is quite normal there, like talking animals, without anyone asking questions.
Fantastic or Marvelous are part of Fantasy.

Urban Fantasy:


These are books or films that take place in a modern, contemporary world, in an urban setting, in which there are things that shouldn’t be: “Monsters & Cie”, “Detective Pikachu”…

Animal Fantasy:


A genre where animals behave like humans.

Swords & Sorcery Movies:


A genre where the hero will face evil sword in hand in violent adventures generally involving magic: “Never ending story”, “Sleeping beauty”, “krull” …

Historic Fantasy:


A genre that tells about past events by adding events from the past by adding a supernatural twist: “300”, “Pirates of the Carribean”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” …

Space Fantasy:


Stories that take place in space and have elements approaching fantasy.

VIII/ Drama

Expectations:

Tone: Heavy
Theme: Realism, difficult interpersonal relationships …
Scenario: Variable
Target: Adult

Most common keywords:

  1. Cigarette smoking
  2. Telephone call
  3. Husband wife relationship
  4. Crying
  5. Money
  6. Mother son relationship
  7. Based on true story
  8. Restaurant
  9. Hospital
  10. Neo noir

Less common keywords:

  1. Psychotronic film
  2. Explosion
  3. Falling from heigt
  4. Good versus evil
  5. Martial arts
  6. Rescue
  7. Chase
  8. Hand to hand combat
  9. Battle
  10. Showdown

Description:


A catch-all genre if there is one, the drama genre includes all films that do not fall into any other box, but there is still a definition:
“These are films where interpersonal relationships are treated with gravity. “

Subgenres:

Melodramas:


Alternation of moments of immense happiness and immense moments of distress. “Titanic”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Gone with the Wind” …

Survivals:


A big problematic event happens to the protagonist and he must survive: “The martian”, “The Revenant”, “127 hours”.

Epic Movies:


A genre that has disappeared a bit today. We talk about Epic when the film is grandiose, the symphonic soundtrack, the wide shots, the immense and magnificent sets… Yes today that describes all the American blockbusters.

Sports Movies:

A specific sport must be at the center of history. Young characters are lost until they take up sport. Draws at first, they end up facing stronger than them and bringing the cup home.

Coming of age Movies:


It’s about becoming an adult and leaving your childhood behind either: “Spider-man Far From Home”, “Four Hundred Blows”, “Carrie” …

IX/ Comedies:

Expectations:

Tone: Light
Theme: Inter relations
-personal, variable …
Scenario: Twist, happy ending …
Target: Everyone

Most common keywords:

  1. Slapsticks comedy
  2. Satire
  3. Friendship
  4. Party
  5. Scène during end credits
  6. Dancing
  7. Singing
  8. Black comedy
  9. Friend
  10. Restaurant

Less common keywords:

  1. Death
  2. Murder
  3. Blood
  4. Violence
  5. Corpse
  6. Surprise ending
  7. Shot to death
  8. Explosion
  9. Psychotronic film
  10. Blood splatter

Description:


The only genre that to my knowledge does not call for the tone, the theme, the scenario or its target to define itself, but calls for its intention to define itself: to make people laugh.

Parody:


It exaggerates certain features of an already established work in order to make people laugh.

Mockumentaries:


Fictions that take on the appearance of documentaries to tell anything. “Spinal Tap”, “I’m still here” …

Mockbusters:


A special category because the intention to make people laugh is not there, but we only look at them for fun.
These are films produced alongside the blockbusters but with a derisory budget: “Atlantic Rim”, “Triassic World”, “Transmorphers” …

Buddy Movies:


Two very different characters must come to terms with each other and discover that they can learn a lot from each other and even become friends.

X/ Romantic Movies:

Expectations:

Tone: Variable, often light
Theme: Love, marriage, family, couple …
Scenario: Misunderstandings and happy ending
Target: More women

Most common keywords:

  1. Kiss
  2. Wedding
  3. Dancing
  4. Marriage
  5. Male female relationship
  6. Love triangle
  7. Sex scene
  8. Indedelity
  9. Restaurant
  10. Family

Less common keywords:

  1. Murder
  2. Explosion
  3. Blood
  4. Surprise ending
  5. Shot to death
  6. Death
  7. Shot in the chest
  8. Pistol
  9. Psychotronic film
  10. Monster

Description:


Romantic movies are movies where love or romantic relationship is central to the storyline.

Subgenres:

Romcom:

High Resolution Print Ready PDF

Film about love while trying to make people laugh.

Chik Flick Movies:


Romantic film aimed at teenage girls.

Supernatural Romances:


Romance with a supernatural creature. “Dracula”, “Ghost”, “Warm Bodies” …

Gothic Romances:


Film which speaks of romance while dealing with death, life after death, ghost with a very heavy atmosphere.

Epic Romances:


A romance in an epic setting: “Moulin rouge”, “Australia”, “Titanic” …

Conclusion:

Well, the real reason why I wrote this article was mainly to talk about as many films as possible that generally made me feel good, sometimes bad, but which I think are in most cases , interesting to see at least once in his life for his film culture. Don’t hesitate to draw from the list, if you don’t know what to watch. 😉

Author: Corona

A danish deaf girl infused with tea the morning, Corona the evening (the beer not the virus!) and addicted to cookies all the time! PS: Don't let me my phone or camera when I'm bored!

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