Genre and narrative are established in many different ways.
In this essay, I will show how genre and narrative is established in two crime films. In order to do to this, we conducted a close textual analysis of ‘Oceans Eleven’ and ‘The Bone Collector’. The conventions used to signify crime genre include law enforces, criminals, action sequences etc… Iconography such as guns, hi tech weaponry, gadgets, police uniform etc.
.. also signify the crime genre.
Examples of crime films include, Knockaround Guys (2001), Layer Cake (2004) and I-Robot (2004). The crime genre includes many sub genres. These sub genres include: Heist (Ocean’s Eleven), Crime Thriller (Psycho), Detective (Columbo) etc..
.The crime genre is a mainstream genre that appeals to mainstream and independent users. This is noticeable, as many famous stars are known to star in crime films. These stars include George Clooney, Brad Pitt, and Julia Roberts etc.
.. Many other genres mix neatly with this genre. For example, the sci-fi genre or the spy genre. This is the main reason why the crime genre has many sub genres.This genre appeals to a mainstream and diverse audience for a variety of reasons. Crime films usually contain plenty of action and include well-known stars.
They have a complicated plot, which intrigues the audience. Crime films are usually in the form of generic hybrids. For example I-robot, which is a sci-fi thriller. Very successful crime films include, ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, ‘Bone Collector’ and ‘I-Robot’. Actors that have emerged through memorable roles in crime films are, George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Andy Garcia, and Matt Damon etc… These crime films have resulted in actors being typecast.
This means that the actors are expected to play a certain role. For example, George Clooney is typecast as a sympathetic criminal.The films that I have analysed are ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ and ‘The Bone Collector’.
Ocean’s Eleven was released in 2001 and is a crime-comedy film. Similar films that were released during this year were, ‘Gosford Park’ and ‘Monster Ball’. The director of ‘Ocean’s Eleven’ is Steven Soderbergh, who has directed and written many films and won many awards. The stars in the film (George Clooney, Brad Pitt) are typecast. George Clooney plays the sympathetic criminal and Brad Pitt plays the carefree criminal. Ocean’s Eleven was a box office success. It is a high concept film. We can tell this because a lot of gadgets are used, hi tech equipment, and even the setting which is a massive casino in Las Vegas.
‘The Bone Collector’ was released in 1999 and is of the crime thriller genre. Similar films that were released during that year included, ‘The Sixth Sense’ and ‘The Blair Witch Project’. The director of the film was Philip Noyce. The stars in the film include Denzel Washington. Denzel Washington goes against his typecast.
He usually plays an action detective role in films. However, in this film, he is a bedridden cop, giving out orders. Bone collector is a high concept film. We can tell because there are many special effects included in the posters.
For example the dark background with police gadgets etc…Todorov’s theory explains that the opening sequence should establish the equilibrium.
This is the case in the film ‘Ocean’s eleven’. Equilibrium is the first narrative stage and is important because it reveals the genre, setting etc… In ‘Ocean’s Eleven’, we are shown many different things that allow us to establish the setting and the genre. The first thing is of course, is the setting in the beginning.
The protagonist is shown in an establishing shot in a dimly lit prison cell. This connotes the crime genre. Prisons are associated with crime and such.
The clanging sounds of metal also reveal to us that the setting is indeed, a prison.Unlike Ocean’s Eleven, ‘The Bone Collector’ reveals the disturbance in the title sequence. This is against Todorov’s theory, which says that the disturbance should be revealed during the middle. The disturbance is created through a variety of different techniques. The music played is very solemn and is associated with murder. This gives away the fact that it is a thriller. Crime scenes are shown in flashes to us and in night vision.
This adds to the disturbance. The newspaper article that scrolls across the screen reveals the disturbance. There is a serial killer. The surgical gloves and forensic evidence also reveal the thriller genre because these items are associated with murder investigations. Despite all this, equilibrium is established when the first scene opens and the audience are introduced to Lincoln Rhyme, who is the protagonist.The opening sequence suggests that the film does not use a conventional linear structure. A linear structure is when a film goes in chronological order. The equilibrium is first, then the disturbance, then the resolution.
However, ‘The Bone Collector’ does not follow this linear structure. A conventional film does not use flashbacks whereas in the opening scene, Rhyme is dreaming. This is a flashback and this reveals to us that ‘The Bone Collector’ has a less conventional narrative. This also means that the film involves a complicated storyline.The disturbance is shown when we see a couple in an airport.
There is an establishing shot to show that the scenes revolve around these couples in particular. The setting is in the middle of the night and the couple are acting normally. The scene then shows a panning shot of a taxi driver. This creates a certain degree of tension. It leaves the audience wondering the significance of this specific taxi driver.
When the couple board the taxi, suspense is created. As there is a close up of the couple sleeping in the taxi, and the woman is aroused, there is a close up on her face. Her face shows distress and tension begins to be felt. As she cries to the taxi driver and she wakes her husband, the distress becomes clear and the suspense builds up, as does the tension.
The tracking shot of the car shows the normality of the scene, which increases even more tension because the fact that there are two distressed people in a car, and it is not noticeable, is frightening.