DFP: Classification of film.

This unit talks about how films can be classified.It gives the different classes films can be put in and also gives the functions of those clasification.

Film Genre


The New Webster Dictionary of the English Language (1997) defines genre as kind, type or category especially of works of art and literature. Similarly, Barnhart and Barnhart (1988) define genre as kind, sort, or style especially in art or literature. It is therefore an index for the classification of artistic materials such as films, drama, music, dance and even literary works. It is used in determining the specific type of classification, into which a work of art can be categorized. It provides the template for analyzing the characteristics of artistic presentations so that an understanding can be achieved, as to the specific kind of work that is assessed, (Owuamalam, 2007). Although films are classified according to types, there is only a thin wall between one genre and another, which is hardly noticeable, hence it is easier to recognize one than define it, (Anunike, 2005). Notable film genres according to scholars like Anunike (2005), Owuamalam (2007), and kogah (1999), include the following: Westerns, gangsters, musicals, war films, thrillers, spectacles, science fiction and Horror films. Others are documentary, feature, experimental and animated films. These genres are discussed in the upcoming paragraphs.

  • Westerns.

This was the first America genre to develop. Since then, it has remained a staple of the motion picture industry in that country. The Westerns delve into the mythical American past and deals with the justification of violence sometimes resulting in loss of lives in the process. Examples are Cowboys, outlaws, settlers and tribes of native Americans. Others are based on songs, popular and wild west shows on the American frontier.

  • Gangstars

From the 20th century, films about organized gangs and the violence that accompany them have been one of the most popular genres. Its popularity was as a result of the introduction of sound into film. The screeching powers of high speed auto chases; the staccato rattle of automatic machine guns, and the chattering and smashing of breaking glasses gave a sense of the gangstars’ level of destructiveness. The gangster film is closely tied to real facet of American life.

  • Musicals

This genre emerged in late 1920s with the invention of sound tracks. Musicals deal with a fantasy land and the consummation of love. Almost all the musicals centre on the love relationship between two characters. One typical example of a musical is the one titled “love boat” shown on NTA Aba in the 80s. It was all about love relationship between actors.

  • War Films

War films have received popular acclaim for two major reasons. First, wars have occupied much of contemporary world history. Second, and most importantly, war as a subject matter is well suited to what film can do best. For instance, the tension and energy leading up to the scenes of combat, the wide ranging battle fields, the explosion that raise buildings to the very foundation level, the destruction of men and tanks, the eruption of fire, and the conclusive forces that spew out smoke, could all be captured by modern film technology

  • Thrillers

These films rely heavily on the literary source of their materials. Ian Flemming was the author of James Bond novels from where the contemporary thrillers originate. The films are lit as though they were comedies unfortunately; the bright lights, beautiful girls and luxurious setting form an ironic contrast to the menacing evil hidden by all those beauty. Thriller films are also called spy films or detective films.

  • Spectacles

Spectacles are among the most profitable American genres. They come with big budget productions and focus mainly on the production values rather than on story, character and mood. The two most popular kinds of spectacles have been historical epics and disaster films. They all try to create the impression that they are works of authentic history rising above mere fiction. Biblical stories have become a veritable source of material for spectacle films.

  • Science Fiction

The science fiction sometimes combine certain elements of horror and disaster. However, they are quite distinct in their purest forms. For instances, the science fiction film developed after the World War II. This time, the film ceased to be considered as a mere fantasy for children. Ever since, it began to reflect the atomic age, space travel and the wearisome discoveries of advance science and technology. As the science fiction developed, the films agreed that the dangers of the future seemed not from sources outside man’s control. The films tell viewers about a successful trip to the moon and in contrast, the consequences of atomic destruction.

  • Horror

The horror film is known for its emotional shock, disgust and repeal on the audience. The appearance and texture of the film make full use of the expressive possibilities of the film medium. The extreme contrasts, of the dark and light settings, the ominously moving camera eager to zoom in or out on some shocking discovery, the tilted angle of the frame expressing a sense of disorientation, the use of low angle shots to express domination, or high angle shots to depict submission, all create a film form that sets its audience into various moods.

  • Documentary films

Anunike (2005) emphasized that all film genres fall into two major categories of documentary and feature films. A documentary film is a film that basically presents factual information (non – fiction) about persons, places and events and about the world outside the film that is trustworthy. In such films, the filmmaker may present the event as they actually occurred using charts, maps, or other visual aids or he/she may stage some events and record them.

  • Feature film

This is any film that is theatrically produced for the entertainment of the viewers. Unlike the documentary film, that deals with factual information and events in the society, feature films are usually fictional in nature. Even when the plot is non – fiction, the characters, treatment and staging cannot be easily recognized with a particular individual, society etc.

  • Experimental Films

This came about through the effort of filmmakers who set out to challenge established conventions of what a movie is and how it is made. It is self – expression or experimentation that is a total departure from the film forms and styles. Another name for experimental film is avant – garde film.

  • Animated film

Conventionally, the live – action shooting speed of films is 24 frames per second. But animated films do not frame an on – going action in real – time. Animators merely produce many images by shooting one frame at a time. When projected, the images create illusionary motion distinct from live action films. This manipulation (Animation) can be achieved by means of two-dimensional drawings, three-dimensional objects of electronic information stirred in a computer.

  • Animated film

Conventionally, the live – action shooting speed of films is 24 frames per second. But animated films do not frame an on – going action in real – time. Animators merely produce many images by shooting one frame at a time. When projected, the images create illusionary motion distinct from live action films. This manipulation (Animation) can be achieved by means of two-dimensional drawings, three-dimensional objects of electronic information stirred in a computer.

Functions of Film Genre

The genre performs specific functions which makes it possible to identify its significance to the literary and creative art. It enables the assignment of meanings and interpretation of events, in the screen art of films, videos and movies. It aids society to aggregate efforts towards a specific production style that can transmit a processed message through a film type. However, these functions are influenced by several factors like culture, society, environment, and science. Details of these functions as examined by Owuamalam (2007) are as follows:

  • Cultural Factors

The totality of life in a specific environment, attests to culture. It means that those plots which portray the activities of people in their cultural millieu, provide the required template for assessing and understanding the cultural values of a society. The genre, therefore reaffirms the cultural attributes of a given society.

  • Social Factors

Genre explores social values and attributes , it is common to experience the life – style of an artist in a film and how reactions influence actions of others in the film and the viewers at home. It portrays such qualities like wealth, grandeur, and opulence as social indicators of followership as organizational expectations, genre jealousies, intrigues and betrayals as sources of social conflicts as examples of social considerations in genres.

  • Environmental Factors

The social conditions of the society are brought to public glare through film genre. It shows how stories, theme, values or imagery of the genre, harmonises with the life in the immediate environment where the film is produced or cast. For instance, corruption, prostitution, and religiosity are common themes in Nollywood films. They depict the environmental conditions of their productions.

  • Science or Scientific Rationalism

This consideration was given as a product of the scientific age of the 19th and 20th centuries. It deals with the reason behind an action, deduced in a rational and logical order. It is an argument or an incisive enquiry into a creative work of art, based on reasoning. Empirical or scientific deductions form the template for assessment in scientific rationalism. Also, actions are subjected to rational tests and deductions. The essence of the scientific rationalism approach is to put artistic work under the test of intellectual and rational evaluation.

Source:NATIONAL OPEN UNIVERSITY OF NIGERIA

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