The Convention of a Thriller Film
It is difficult to state a clear definition of a thriller as they
cross over many genres, however the single most characteristic of a
thriller is the obvious one, it "thrills" the audience. The plots are
scary, the characters are at great risk and the films are constructed
in a manner that makes the watcher really want to know what happens
next. There is no formula for a thriller, other that that most
thrillers follow one of a few common narrative structures. For
example, they may use the Todorov theory, where the narrative
structure is comprised of three main parts: order and normality, then
something happens where disorder occurs and finally equilibrium is
restored, usually by a hero.
Thrillers can be divided into countless categories, i.e., action
thrillers, psychological thrillers, millitary thrillers, spy
thrillers, and the list goes on. It's easier to recognise a thriller
than to describe it. There are some general characteristics that most
have. They usually include a plot that concerns life or death issues,
and thrillers unlike horrors have a real-life slant. Sometimes
thrillers involve murder mysteries, and nearly all thrillers put the
protagonist and other sympathetic characters in serious danger.
Thrillers usually have a great deal of action, cinematic landscapes or
cityscapes or interior "mindscapes".
On a more historical approach, thrillers have their roots in German
expressionism and include some elements of gothic/Victorian novels.
Thrillers have a relationship with horror, where a few similar
features are shared, for example they both tend to exploit the fears
of mankind where "sublime terror rests in the unseen", although
thrillers are more realistic and horrors are surreal. Dependancy on
dramatic music to engage the audience and build tension again stems
from German expressionism. The 1970's saw a boom in horror films and
excessive violence towards 'fragile', impure women, from this women
are largely the victims in thrillers, and they need support and a
'hero' to save them. Both thrillers and horrors have a 'dark'
undertone, with a lot of night settings as evil is traditionally
associated with darkness.
There are three main periods in the build up 2 the modern thrillers.
The first is wartime, 1941-46, where studio sets were rigid and not
very realistic. The second period is post was realistic, where sets
started to move to real locations. The 1950's and 60's saw a boom in
film Noir and modern day thrillers are more associated with psychotic
action and suicidal impulse.
On a more analytical level, the evil act in a thriller is generally
percieved to be an act against the repression of society, inflicted
upon the individual. 'The Birds' by Alfred Hitchcock is an example of
how a normal aspect of nature turns...