Genre Films' Predictability And Formulaicity Essay

2355 words - 9 pages

Genre Films' Predictability and Formulaicity

This essay shall discuss whether 'Genre films are predictable and
formulaic', looking at the Western genre, and using the example films
of, 'The Searchers' and 'Unforgiven'. Genre is a fundamental means by
which we communicate especially in storytelling. If looking at genre
in terms of Thomas Shatz, he puts forward the theory of similarity and
overlap. He adopts a thematic and ideological approach, which
identifies only two genres; the genre of order and the genre of
integration. In this case the Western would be categorised into the
genre of order. This essay shall also look at how genre films change
over time, due to changes in society, as characters are represented
differently, for example, females are now allowed to do the same jobs
as men, but this would not have been allowed in the 1950's, and also
as sub genres within the film industry are created over time, as films
can now be categorised into more that one genre, for example, Alien,
can be placed both in the Horror and the Science Fiction genres.

If looking at the western genre in terms of iconography, then it would
have to be agreed that genre is predictable and formulaic to a certain
extent, as the western genre has to be predictable and formulaic
because the films depict a certain part of the west in American
history, so it therefore needs to show a realistic image of the west
within all western films, as it is a true time in American history.

In both 'The Searchers' and 'Unforgiven', there was examples of
similar iconography, such as guns, and a similar narrative, as they
both followed the revenge narrative, this therefore suggests that
genre can be predictable as if looking at these two western films, it
is shown that they both use similar iconography and both follow the
same revenge narrative.

Within each of the films, the revenge narratives are both set around
the female, as in 'The searchers', Ethan and Martin aim to save the
young girl Debbie, and in 'Unforgiven', Will, Ned and the Schofield
Kid aim to get revenge for the female prostitutes, this therefore
shows how genre could be seen to predictable and formulaic as these
two western films show how they both follow similar structures and
narratives.

The theorists Propp and Todorov have focused on the similarity in
narrative across different genres. They suggest that genres that are
different from one another in terms of visual, verbal and musical
signifiers operate according to the same narrative structures. Propp
puts forward the story functions of hero, villain and donor etc, and
Todorov puts forward the equilibrium narrative theory. These two
theorists therefore show, how genre could be seen to be predictable
and formulaic, as both of their theories can be applies to 'The
Searchers' and 'Unforgiven',...

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