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Film Genre Essay

2247 words - 9 pages

FILM1003FILM GENRESWith reference to at least two of the films screened this semester, discuss the extent to which genres might evolve or develop over time in order to survive.In the filmic medium, as in all medium's, genre is superficially defined as the categorization of film based upon its subject matter. Douglas Pye defines genre as the, "ways in which audience expectations and producers' commercial motivations form a commercial currency." This means that films can be divided into categories that share similar conventions, however as time progresses, so does films' ability to manipulate and subvert genre types. The Western genre is perhaps the oldest and longest surviving in film history, particularly considering its easily adaptable conventions based in melodrama. However, it has indeed evolved and developed over time in order to endure this survival; a process of transformation, which has resulted in subversive revisions of the Western's form and conventions. This essay will primarily discuss how the characteristic themes of the Western have evolved and developed through subjects of dichotomies of East/West, good/evil, the role of the protagonist, the role of the Native American and the use of and narrative and film structure from the time of classic Westerns, focusing on John Ford's Stagecoach (1939) to later revisionist Western - Jim Jarmusch's Dead Man (1995).The Western in many respects is "a nostalgic eulogy to the early days of the expansive, untamed American frontier (the borderline between civilization and the wilderness)." Focused on the last part of the 19th Century around 1865- 1900, the Western is not so much a historical perspective on American history, but rather a reflection on society on the frontier and its values during that time. In Western films particularly, the East is portrayed as a corrupt, restrictive and institutionalized force threatening the Western ethos whilst the West is the virgin terrain that is unspoiled demonstrating an egalitarian and pure way of life. Westerns usually focus on a ritualistic journey from the East to the West by its characters in search of civilization in isolation. In Stagecoach, a story of redemption, the characters within the narrative do just this, travel from Tonto in the East to Lordsburg in the West in search of a society free of Eastern corruption. Ford's use of iconography when depicting the isolation of the West is evident here with his "dramatic utilization of the Monument Valley location." Therefore demonstrating how the West lays untouched, reflecting this pure way of life. Jarmusch's Dead Man however, depicts this theme in a different way, suggesting how Western films have evolved in order for the genre and the conventions within in it to survive. Jarmusch uses the train sequence at the beginning of the film to demonstrate his view of the relationship between the East and the West. Firstly the other passengers on the train other than the protagonist William Blake who will be...

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