Reviewing Hollywood movies through the prism of genre

This weekend, I went on a one-day course at London’s City Lit to study Hollywood movies with tutor Jon Wisbey. We used the analytical tool of genre which could be described as a type of story or narrative.

There are broad genres like the western, the musical. the comedy, the action adventure, but there are countless ways of slicing and dicing genre. Our tutor referred us to an industry source that uses over 200 genres – see list with top-grossing instances here. And, of course, there are plenty of movies that mix genres – a recent classic being “Cloud Atlas”.

A major feature of the course was to look at how genres have changed in popularity over the years and how the same genre has been treated differently over time.

So genres like the melodrama, the western, the musical and the gangster movie, which were so popular in the 1930s and 1940s, have almost gone now. But sci-fi, fantasy and children’s films have grown massively in output and box office success. Meanwhile a genre like comedy has remained permanently popular, notably the romantic comedy.

Out tutor showed is a number of film clips and encouraged us to discuss how the same genre has been treated very differently in classic Hollywood, New Hollywood and modern times:

  • For gangster movies, we looked at clips of “White Heat”, “Bonnie And Clyde” and “Reservoir Dogs”.
  • For westerns, we looked at clips of “Stagecoach” and “Meek’s Cutoff”.
  • For romantic comedies, we looked at clips of “The Awful Truth” and “Friends With Benefits”.
  • For fantasy films, we looked at clips of “Frankenstein”, “Star Wars” and “Forrest Gump”.

I have seen seven of these 10 films.

I’m a great believer in lifelong learning and I always learn things on these courses. Today I learned the difference between diegetic sound and non-diegetic sound.


XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>