Genre presentation script
Slide one: Genre Genre is used by audience and producers. It is used by audiences to find a film they like so they don’t go and waste their money on any old film and be disappointed. Producers use genres to try and maximise audiences thus maximising profits. The way they do this now is by making hybrid genres so they can target fans of 2 or 3 different genres. Genres also help producers limit risks when making film because they can specifically make a film for a genre that they know there’s an audience for based on prior box for those types of films. An example of a hybrid genre would be a biopic like King Arthur which takes the genres of fantasy, action and historical and combines them. Slide Two: genre conventions Genres are identified by genre conventions. The conventions include locations, props, characters, costume, sound, cinematography, iconography, narrative and themes. Slide three: locations Locations in epic films are often vast expensive back drops with on location shooting on a grand scale. The locations can be historical or imagined, dependent on the sub genre of the epic e.g. war epics, mythical epic, science fiction epics, historical epic, and animated epic. For Example in the film ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ a lot of the film was shot on location in places Loarre Huesca Aragon Spain, Ouarzazate Morocco, Sevilla Andalucia which provided all the desert, oasis and estate scenes. In the 1900 a lot of the locations were set based like ‘The 300 Spartans’ but now most of it is a mix of CGI and location based like ‘King Arthur’ that was filmed over in Dublin Ireland, Wicklow Ireland and Carmarthenshire Wales. But the end battle scene involved a lot of CGI to create the big battle scenes and parts of the castle were made up of CGI. Slide four: props Props in epics are often things they would use in the time period that the film was set in e.g. there might be props like weapons, bowls, chairs, a broom, cutlery and a bucket anything that established a context in terms of time and place e.g. In ‘The Man In The Iron Mask’ (1977) they have props such as the iron mask, elaborate
dresses from the 18th century, French swords, pitch fork, rifles and a crown. There are other props used in ‘King Arthur’ e.g. medieval swords, bow and arrow, jug, bowl, saddle, and fur coat. Props in epic films haven’t really changed over time they've mainly stayed the same e.g. in a medieval epic say made in the 1950’s compared to one made in the 21 st century there wouldn’t be much difference in props apart from maybe more of them or more complicated props e.g. when they have 200 extra’s they would make props for all of them and in detail i.e. full amour, bow, sword, or full costume i.e. dress, garment, jewelry. Other the years the props have become more realistic e.g. the weapons look more realistic instead of just carbon copies, the costumes look more realistic as well e.g. if they have a dress from a certain time period they now have the budget to make it in the real material leven if it is silk or animal fur that is very expensive. Slide five: characters Characterisation is also another example of a convention in the epic genre that hasn’t changed much over time. Because there is still some hunky hero, with his friendly companions by his side to help him through the tough situation and some evil villain with lots of evil minions, as well as a major love interest (hero). For example in King Arthur, Arthur has his friendly companions that him i.e. Lancelot, Tristan, Gawain, Galahad, Dagonet, and Bors. Then Arthurs big love interest was Guinevere, Then the big villain with all his minions was Cerdic, Cynric and their army who fought King Arthur at the end. Even epics that arent biopics they still have a good character with there companions that is portrayed in a good light, they may not be some super hero or some evil minion but characters in epic are still based around some sort of historic figure. Slide six: costume Costumes in epics have changed slightly over time. Costumes that were used in some of the earlier epics like these of the 1930’s studio period weren’t as expensive and as lavish as the costumes used today. I think in todays epics a great deal of thought and time is spent on costume and the way the characters look maybe a little more so then they did when epics first began. For example in the film ‘Cleopatra’ (1934) they have the basic costumes like the crown, bangles, dress, necklace and makeup. The dress Cleopatra wears is black and doesn’t look Egyptian so it is un realistic. Whereas in Cleopatra (1999) the costumes are a range of different colors (instead of just 2) e.g. pink, green, blue and gold, which makes them elaborate and more realistic as the clothes Cleopatra would of worn in that time period would be multiple colour’s. The costumes are also more grand e.g. the crown in the 1999 ‘Cleopatra’ is even bigger and has its own design on of something that looks like a serpent (linked to Egyptian culture
shows realism) There is also more jewelry used in ‘Cleopatra’ (1999) as there are earing’s, head bands, necklaces and bangles. Slide seven: sound Over time there has been a great deal of change in the use of sound in epic films. Considering epics started off as silent films they have come a long way in terms of sound. Over the years sound has evolved in epics from starting with the first epic film with sound in 1934 to sound becoming more widely used and the quality of sound gradually improving over the years until surround sound. For example in ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ because of the use of surround sound (so the sound comes from every angle around us) and the improved quality when a battle is going on it feels like you are really there (even though you are not you are seeing the battle through the eyes of the film) as you can hear every scream, every footstep of an approaching army, every sword fight that is going on so much so that you can tell when a battle is going to be won or lost and you can hear all the rocks from the catapults flying through the sky. Due to the improved sound you can also tell a bit more about a character and get a feel of their presence on screen e.g. when they shout, or cry you can really feel the emotion in their voice e.g. in the scene where the Muslims and Christians are arguing amongst themselves in the throne room you really feel the tense atmosphere due to the power of the sound. Slide eight: Cinematography Over the years cinematography hasn’t changed a great deal the government of film editing/composition is now firmly established. But the variety of shots they use has increased with more bird’s eye views to show battle scenes as well as incorporating stills photography and CGI. They also use low angle, and high angle shots combinations because it makes the film more visually interesting and allows the audience to see the action happening from multiple different angles which are almost like seeing something happen from different view points e.g. the director can make the audience experience the film as if they are just observing the events or as if they are actually there simply by changing the angle of the shots. Extreme close ups are also used to show the expression on a characters face or to pay close attention to specific parts of the body e.g. there could be an extreme close-up of a battle scar on someone’s shoulder. In the film ‘Ben Hur’ (1926) the film is shot with all real people in the coliseum so the coliseum scenes are made up of 100’s of extra’s to make it look like a real coliseum. But in Gladiator (2000) the people in the coliseum are mostly made up of CGI and they aren’t real, all they have done is taken a section of people and basically photoshopped them in around the coliseum so it looks like the coliseum is packed when in reality there may only be 50 real extra’s. As a result the shot angles used in contemporary films have changed compared to studio films as they cant have close-up’s or high angle shots on the people in the coliseum in a modern day film because people will realise
they are fake and not real people just bits of CGI so in cotemporary epics we have moved away from close-ups and high angle shots of groups of people and opted for more wide angle long shots and birds eye views. This can be clearly scene if you got to 2:51 on the ‘Ben Hur’ trailer and 0:27 on ‘Gladiator. There are also a lot less establishing shots used in contemporary epics as they are now more CGI based then on location just look at the film ‘300’ (2006) compared to ‘The 300 Spartans’ (1962). http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ftxWZZQs-j4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ol67qo3WhJk Slide nine: narrative The narrative in epics is of course dependent on the type of epic. However the basic narrative structure of any sub genre of epics is the same a heroic figure saves the world/defeats the bad guy and gets the girl, or they die trying. For example in ‘The Man In The Iron Mask’ prince Phillipe, king Louis twin brother saves the French people by ascending to the throne by forcefully removing his evil twin brother who was being a tyrant to the people who in the end got the girl Maria his true love after he saved his people. The main type of narrative used in epics specifically biopics is classic Hollywood narrative they have a clear, beginning middle and end. These narratives are normally resolved at the end. They are structured in a very ordered way (chronological order) makes it simple for the audience to follow. An example of a classic Hollywood narrative is king Arthur (2003) where it has a clear beginning where it shows king Arthur as a young boy and shows him grown up on a mission. Then it has the middle where king Arthur goes on a mission to bring back the pop's god son. Then there is the ending where king Arthur finds out he is the true leader Britain and has to defend Britain against the Saxons. Then the resolution is that he has defeated the Saxons so the equilibrium has been restored. Slide ten: Themes Themes in epics have become more complex over time with several themes being explored at once now. Themes of Epics only really vary in terms of the sub genre being different e.g. a western epic will have a different theme to a war epic. For example ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ (2005) has several different themes e.g. betrayal, romance, revenge, political instability, good v evil and religion. ‘King Arthur’ and ‘Lincoln’ are two examples of epics that have a different subgenre that explore different themes e.g. ‘King Arthur’ is a biopic that explores themes like oppression, romance, and conquest where ‘Lincoln’ (2012) is a historical epic that explores themes such as politics, controversy, and prejudice. Slide eleven: reception Over the years the audiences for epics have become more defined because now epic films mainly target people that like action films, adventure films, war films and to draw in a bigger female audience they also include romance. Now the benchmark for epic films have been set and people know what to expect. Overall I think the
change in epic films has widely been well received and people are pleased that they target a bigger audience. Epics are actually good hybrid genres. Slide twelve: Classification The Hayes Code that was introduced in 1934 and abolished in 1968 had particular control over what early epics could show through out the 30’s to the 60’s. Before the Hayes Code there was an era called pre code Hollywood where the only form of censorship/restrictions was by local laws, negotiations between the Studio Relations Committee, and the major studios. This system was terrible and didn’t work so instead of films being properly monitored they ended up having sexual innuendo, miscegenation, profanity, illegal drug use, promiscuity, prostitution, infidelity, abortion and intense violence. One important rule that the Hayes Code stated is that the film can’t be made so the audience feels sympathy for the evil villain that is doing something sinful or miss leading. The Hayes Code also stated that law, natural or a human being couldn’t be ridiculed so it meant that an epic film could not show someone being ridiculed. Brutal killings were also not allowed to be shown in detail so they had to be careful how they depicted violence. For example with the film ‘It Happened One Night’ (1934) in the scene where Gable and Claudette were in a motel alone they performed the scene in the most chaste way by putting a blanket between to separate the two beds, and Claudette wore these pajamas that covered everything except her face, when Gable gave Claudette a lesson in how a man undresses, Claudette freaked out. This was all done in the names of the Hayes Code so the film could be shown at cinemas. The Hayes Code stated that the filmmakers could not show adultery attractively and they could only show passionate scenes if it was essential to the plot. Slide thirteen: classification (Hayes Code read some out) The film ‘The Outlaw’ (1943) was effected by The Hayes Code when it was released, at first it was kept out of cinema’s because the advertising featuring a picture of Jane Russell’s cleavage was considered to racy. So the director Howard Hughes cut 30 seconds from the film and it was re released in 1943 for seven days before someone at the Hayes office decided the film was simply too risqué to be shown at cinema’s, so the film was again banned from being shown until 1946. But since then the Hayes Code has been replaced by the Motion Picture Association Of America that was founded in 1922 but replaced the Hayes code in 1968. The way the system works is they use 5 ratings to determined what age group a film is suitable for they are: G for general-nothing that would offend parents for viewing by their children, PG for parental Guidance Parents urged to give parental guidance may contain some content parents might not like their children to view, PG-13 for parental guidance 13+ parents urged to be cautious
some material maybe unsuitable for pre teens, R for restricted contains some adult material parents urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them, NC-17 for no children under 17 permitted patently adult no children admitted, NR for not rated which means it is either not classified by the MPAA or its so sever its unrated. Under this new system a film like ‘Outlaw’ would have been screened no matter if there were a lot of nude or sex scenes/racy scenes because all the would of done was change the classification bracket to something high like R or NC-17. Slide seventeen: changes in society Epic films have changed over the years because of changes in society and peoples tastes changing. Over the years epic films have increased in the amount of action and violence shown in them. For example ‘King Arthur’ has a lot of battle scenes in it and they take up a considerable amount of the theme, the battle scenes also have a lot of blood in them and you see things like heads getting chopped off, arrows going through peoples arms so there is no stop action there is a battle scene at least every 20 minutes. This is very different to ‘The 300 Spartans’ where there are fewer battle scenes (2-3) main ones and they probably only happen every 30 minutes or so. They are also less violent as you don’t see a lot of blood, or people’s heads and arms being chopped off as it is more about the storytelling then the action. There has also been an increase of the amount of biopics made because it is one of the audiences’ favorite sub genres of epics, as it is very action packed, with a hint of adventure and romance. The plots now are not as in depth in terms of historical knowledge but there is always a clear plotline. For example ‘King Arthur’ its straight forward go on one last mission, i.e. a dangerous adventure then when it is complete they gain their freedom (here they face some kind of challenge), then along the way save the slave girl (heroic figure gets girl), and at the end the main characters have all grown i.e. the knights of the round table, (the characters have been on a journey together and grown spiritually/personality wise) so they decided to defend Britain against the Saxons (beats the bad guys). Slide 15: Metz circle of genre Film theorist Christian Metz proposed that genre passes through 4 stages in its cinematic life. Experimental that uses the key elements that become the defining conventions of that genre in terms of; Iconography, Narrative Structure, Mise en scene etc. Classic the films that best exemplify the conventions of the genre. Parody when the genre expectations are so familiar they are generated for humour, like ‘Carry On Cleo’. And finally deconstructive where essential elements of the genre are gone e.g. the birth of CGI has caused the epic genre to deconstruct as epic’s in terms of its purest from because they were called epics because of the large scale they were shot on with 100’s of extra’s shot on location but now all these people you see in the films are made up of CGI so now no one highers large amount of extra’s as it is cheaper to make them using CGI. Also half the film is shot in some big set that is owned by one of the big studios so its not even filmed fully on location anymore.
Also the epic’s genre has been taken over by so many different hybrids of different genres stuck together that an epic just doesn’t exist e.g. you have biopics that have turned more into action films with a load of CGI and battle scenes in them that have almost no historical context, war epics that have turned into a mix of genres like comedy, romance, action. There are even spoofs done of epic films now e.g. ‘300’ was turned into ‘Meet The Spartans’ that is now some over the top comedy, that has elements of a musical in along with rap battles. So now epics are barely recogniseable and for that sole reason I would argue epics have already gone through their deconstructive stage.
Audience reception and defining audiences In order to market an audience for a specific genre you need to first know whether there will be an audience for the genre you then need to work out what particular audiences like, certain traits or conventions of the genre they most appreciate and how best to target them. The way an audience is defined is through the use of demographics and physiographic. Demographics are characteristics such as someone’s class, age, religion, gender, ethnicity or location which can all effect what sort of films people like e.g. a female may not like the epic genre because it contains too much violence and action and not enough romance, or a Muslim might not watch a particular film like ‘Kingdom Of Heaven’ because it offends their religion. Psychographics is grouping by traits or characteristics based on your lifestyle choices these groups include mainstreamers, reformers, aspirers and succeiders. Typically in terms of the epic genre mainstreamers and aspirers are most likely to watch those films. Mainstreamers would watch any epic film that is typically considered popular, or a good film to watch as they generally just go with the flow and films that are considered mainstream are films everyone has heard of or watched. The hybridity of epics and the high production values they generically have will appeal to mainstream film goers who want action and spectacle. Aspire’s are also likely to watch epic films particularly if it has some big shot celebrity e.g. Russell Crowe in Gladiator as these people like celebrities and they want to be as successful or as famous as them. They would also watch the film sometimes just because they know it has a big star it because if they like some of their other films they tend to assume this one would be just as good. Qualitative research plays a major role in defining audiences for specific genres whether it would be focus groups, face to face interviews or questionnaires because if you get people to watch a specific film e.g. an epic film like ‘King Arthur’ you can then ask them some questions about their background e.g. ethnicity or gender or you can ask questions about whether they aspire to be celebrities then you can see what people liked the film and what things they have in common so you can build an audience based on people who share the same views. Focus groups may also be held to find information about the audience which is where you ask a group of people some series of questions on what they think about the film whether its positive or negative. In terms of audience reception polysemy is the idea that we all read things differently based on cultural inheritance and competence and this also relates to the Epic genre as you could have a film about the American civil war but its presented from the southern point of view rather than the northern point of
view so some people in the north of America might not agree with what the film is suggesting or how the film ends which can lead to people having oppositional readings which is where they disagree with what’s being said or they might be aberrant where they don’t understand what is going on because they’re belief structure doesn’t explain it. However if someone from the south was watching the film they would have a preferred reading where they mostly agree with what the film is conveying and they would think the film is good. In most cases with the epic genre they tend to follow the classic Hollywood narrative which is a theory developed by Russian film theorist Todorov where there is a clear beginning, middle and end and the events are all linear. And at the start of the narrative you have the status quo where there is equilibrium then a problem begins to arise so that leads onto the next stage where a quest to begins to solve this problem and some sort of obstacles are faces which is the disruption, then the narrative moves onto the next stage where the quest/goal has been achieved and the problem is fixed so you reach equilibrium again but with a new status quo as things have changed over the course of the film. Some audience theories such as the cultivation theory can be applied to the Epic genre as it says the media can effect peoples views on the world or opinions about certain people that may be false e.g. if they see an epic film that shows East Germany as being a hero for fighting against the capitalist west then that would effect people views in a false way as that country is not a hero but rather its genocidal. The desensitisation theory can also be applied to the epic genre because it talks about how the amount of violence people see in the media can effect their view on violence and they might deem it reasonable or possible to fight lots of people at one time by yourself. So when people see a lot of violence in the epic genre they might think its reasonable to go round fighting people who they think are evil or wrong and some people might try and be a hero just like in ‘King Arthur’ and end up getting seriously injured or killed all because ‘King Arthur’ can kill 10 people with only getting a scratch.