Film Genres have been known to be too formulaic, in other words, very typical of each other and can be very predictable in places. Prime examples of this would be Gangster films, Horror films and Westerns in particular. A lot of actors and directors even specialise in certain types of film Genres, for instance, actors such as Clint Eastwood will feature in Westerns, and always plays heroic characters. However, not all films are formulaic. Films like The Raining Stones, which create a sense of realism, are films many of us can relate to.
Films must change regularly; according to the change in society otherwise the audience would find many films very predictable. For example, films after world war two changed, not just the narrative of films, but technology, characters, props and new situations. Genres do change regularly.
Another example of formulaic genres would be westerns. It’s something not many people can relate to nowadays, because times have changed. But in its day, westerns were very typical of each other. The ‘ingredients’ of this genre were always very similar. For instance, you can’t have a western without a good guy verses a bad guy, ‘damsels in distress’, guns, saloons and saloon girls, jails and the hats, coats, boots and dusty roads.
In 1992 however Clint Eastwood starred in, directed and produced a western called Unforgiven, and in many ways it challenged the traditional interpretation of a western. For instance, you find it hard to tell who is the hero. Clint Eastwood’s character, William Munny, in his time killed women and children. And the ‘bad guy’, Little Bill considered that a threat to the town.
In a way it, also demonstrates political correctness, in that the hero, William Munny is a fairly old pig farmer and at first, is very rusty at killing cowboys or even being a cowboy. (He got the script ten years before they started work on the film and held on to it because he was too young). It is also politically correct how William’s partner is Black (Ned Logan), but typical of an early film, because Ned dies, not only does he die, but his body is displayed in front of the town’s saloon, threatening William and other cowboys such as himself.
If this film was typical of a western in every way, how many people would be interested in it?
To make a film you would have to consider the type of audience that would watch it. Unforgiven would be for a mass audience, but films like Raining stones is for a niche audience, it is a film for just a certain type of audience. Raining stones, staring Coronation Street’s Bruce Jones, unlike Unforgiven, is a film that many British people can relate to.
And if you can relate to a character in a film then you are likely to enjoying it.
Nevertheless, this film is also quite different to everyday life, in that the priest in the film swears and I have never heard of a swearing priest. But many films will give the audience what they want to hear or language they can relate to.
Yet not all audiences like to relate to characters. Several people enjoy watching film for escapism and to view different types of cultures. The audience like to be surprised sometimes. They tend to enjoy new and exciting genres. For instance, some British and American people may enjoy watching foreign films, or British people may enjoy watching American films get away from very day life, which is why soap operas are enjoyed.
Audiences can be broken down in many ways. It can be broken down according to age, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion and in many other ways. Raining stones would be for the lower class in the age group of about twenties to forties, because of its realism and documentary-like setting. There are also films for teens, like Legally Blonde and films for children, like Disney Films. Black and White films tend to be enjoyed by people over thirty, like The Big Sleep and It’s a Wonderful Life. Films like Pretty Woman and What Women Want tend to be enjoyed, mainly by women, and can be known as ‘Chick Flicks’, where as men tend to enjoy action films, like James Bond movies and The Fast and The Furious.
Another example of formulaic genre is horror. The make-up, the special effects, the lighting the camera shots, the music, they all resemble each other in one way or another. However, these ingredients are what make horrors what they are toady. Can you imagine watching a horror film without the deep, dark music or the sound effects? The Blair Witch Project used little lighting and less music. The music adds to the suspense.
In some films, silence can add suspense, like the first Mission Impossible. In one of the scenes in the film Tom Cruise was hanging from the ceiling of a highly secured volt to get some top-secret information. Most of that scene was silence and that gave the audience suspense.
Many films, like Mission Impossible can be broken down into three parts, called the classic three part narrative, which is made up of:
1. Stability-at the beginning
2. Enigma-the puzzle, the crisis, the bulk of the film.
Films can also be broken down in five parts; if you want to be more specific called the Classic five part Narrative. It consists of:
1. Inciting incident-at the beginning
2. Complications-the bulk of the film
These can be identified in a lot of Classic Hollywood films, like Silence of the Lambs, Bladerunner, Mission Impossible and many more.
In conclusion, my opinion is that they aren’t too formulaic. They change according to society so people can relate to many characters. And some things stay the same or differ to society, like films based years ago, like Wild Wild West, Pleasantville or films set in the future, like Bladerunner or Fifth Element, to escape realism.
As well as technology, props and settings changing, the way characters handle situations change. For instance years ago women playing the ‘damsel in distress’ was very popular. Now more and more women in films are the hero or are helping the hero in some way, like Mission Impossible, or the Fifth Element.
Genres are probably a lot more politically correct now then ever before. And they probably will carry on going in that direction. Times must change, in order to move on into the future.