WHAT it is…

A method of classifying movies based on narrative elements that targets specific sections of the movie-going audience and promises specific kinds of entertainment to them. Genres could be seen as unwritten, common norms internalised by both producers and consumers of industrial cinema. Although primarily a framework to classify commercial movies, the film genres have also deeply informed filmmaking practice outside the mainstream.

WHO its pioneers were...

The nature of genre systems practised across the world is deeply related to the culture they are born out of. Hollywood film genres, for one, have been shaped by both popular literature and the uniquely American, Fordist necessity to mass produce films in a short amount of time. Producers such as Mack Sennett, Louis B. Mayer and David O. Selznick are some of the figures that have shaped the Hollywood genre system through the ages.

WHY it is important...

The genre system is of supreme importance to any cinematic enterprise across the globe because they provide a tradition with or against which filmmakers can work. Since iconoclasm is impossible without the existence of icons, even the most radical filmmakers owe an unacknowledged debt to film genres. For better or worse, film genres have single-handedly helped decide the role of visual media in modern day society.

WHERE to find it...

Genre films exist in every film industry around the world and in various shapes and forms. These films may belong to simple genres, as Titanic (1997) does to the Romance genre, or to finer classifications called sub-genres, as The Dark Knight (2008) does to the Superhero Movie.

HOW it is characterised…

Objectives

Film genres, by conception, work through repetitions and variations on a set of familiar storylines, character types, ideological assumptions and themes. By resolving familiar problems arising out of familiar situations, genre films often propagate — consciously or otherwise — an array of moral, political and social values. Critic Robin Wood, for instance, characterised each Hollywood film genre as being specific solutions to the ideological contradictions of capitalist liberalism.

Style

Genre movies regularly call for familiar employment of filmmaking elements. The quality of features such as acting, setting, musical score and editing is largely shaped by the genre of the movie they serve. However, such a subordination of cinematic elements is also, though less occasionally, thwarted by a strong directorial presence, wherein the genre plays second fiddle to authorial signature.