Film genre

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In film theory, genre (English pronunciation: /ˈʒɒnrə/ or /ˈdʒɒnrə/) refers to the method based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. As with genre in a literary context, there is a great deal of debate over how to define or categorize genres.[citation needed] Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary, film genres can be categorized in several ways.

Fictional films are usually categorized according to their setting, theme topic, mood, or format[citation needed] . The setting is the milieu or environment where the story and action takes place. The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around. The mood is the emotional tone of the film. Format refers to the way the film was shot (e.g., anamorphic widescreen) or the manner of presentation (e.g.: 35 mm, 16 mm or 8 mm). An additional way of categorizing film genres is by the target audience. Some film theorists argue that neither format nor target audience are film genres.[citation needed]

Film genres often branch out into subgenres, as in the case of the courtroom and trial-focused subgenre of drama known as the legal drama. They can be combined to form hybrid genres, such the melding of horror and comedy in the Evil Dead films.



Janet Staiger argues that Hollywood films are not pure genres, because most Hollywood movies blend the love-oriented plot of the romance genre with other genres.[1] Staiger classifies Andrew Tutor's ideas that the genre of film can be defined in four ways. The "idealist method" judges films by predetermined standards. The "empirical method" identifies the genre of a film by comparing it to a list of films already deemed to fall within a certain genre. The a priori method uses common generic elements which are identified in advance. The "social conventions" method of identifying the genre of a film is based on the accepted cultural consensus within society.[1] Jim Colins claims that since the 1980s, Hollywood films have been influenced by the trend towards "ironic hybridization", in which directors combine elements from different genres as with the Western/Science fiction mix in Back to the Future Part III.[1]

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