Topic: Genre Film Essay
For this paper, I?m asking you to study the evolution of a film genre. We have
considered the evolution of the Western and the development of Art Cinema as a
reaction to classical Hollywood film. Next week, we will be looking at film
noir and issues of gender, and the following week, horror film and issues of
You are free to choose any two films you would like to write about either in
one genre or as a crossing of genre and film style (as in art cinema or film
noir). Here are your options.
1. Choose a genre that you would like to study more closely. It can be
anything: suspense, screwball comedy, action film, war film, film noir,
thriller, suspense thriller, romantic comedy, horror, disaster movie,
psychological thriller, essay film, etc.
If you?re not sure of a genre, you can pretty quickly find other films in the
genre with a google search. You can also ask me, or look it up on imdb.com (a
very handy film database).
2. Choose one example of this film that goes back at least thirty years (i.e.,
before 1986) and one film in this genre made in the past decade. Compare and
Watch both films and describe the continuities and the changes that you
observe. Be specific. How do the stock characters and the stock narratives
remain constant yet change? What are the genre?s rules and how are they
utilized in the first film? Be careful not to assume that the first example is
a pristine or pure example, since it?s likely to be an evolution from an
earlier instance dating to the classical period of Hollywood film (even if it
is a foreign or international film).
3. Find one academic article about that genre (perhaps in the FTC reader, but
not one of the one?s we have read) that discuss the genre in some manner, and
explore in what ways the ideas apply or fail to apply to the works. Take some
time to look at article abstracts to find one that appeals to you and that you
find interesting. Sometimes, you need to read the first page of an article to
see if it?s of interest. Use this article to deepen your analysis of these
films and the genre you are exploring. You don?t have to agree, but work the
article?s claims into your discussion. If you disagree, show how your examples
demonstrate your position.
Articles should be found on JSTOR.org, which is accessible through the Pratt
library portal. Newspaper articles or reviews will not be accepted.
Some questions that you can consider (though you don?t need to answer all of
?What is exciting in the evolution from the first film to the second? Why might
this change have taken place?
?What remains central to the concern of the genre? Does the genre uphold an
ideology or value that remains constant in spite of the changes?
?Does the second film challenge, question or overturn the genre?s basic idea or
value? If so, how does the filmmaker use film form to develop a critical
position vis à vis the first film or the genre as a whole (think, here, of how
Godard turns the gangster movie into a film about women in French society and
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