How typical are your three main texts of their genre?
The three texts chosen are a mixture of genres. Postmodern films in today's society are growing more prominent, two of the three films are hybrids of two or more genres, these two being 'Sin City' and 'District 9'. The third is 'Fish Tank', a purely social realist film.
'Sin City' is a hybrid of film noir, comic book and horror conventions which is not only postmodern but is also typical in its use of genre conventions. 'Sin City' uses classic film noir conventions such as a cynical protagonist in the form of two main characters Hartigan and Marv, rain-soaked streets, low-key lighting and a voice-over narrative. A good example of this cynical protagonist convention is Marv who states that "Hell is waking up every goddam day and not knowing why you're here" in a voice over. This shows how much he despises himself, it also shows a typical film noir genre convention in his character portrayal and the way his thoughts are conveyed. This stems from the theme of paranoia, an aspect of all film noir characters which originates from the 1940's view of society in the wake of World War II and the possibility of a new 'cold war'.
Another example of 'cold war' paranoia can be seen through Bruce Willis's character Hartigan. One scene reflects this mood when Hartigan is shot in the back by his cop 'buddy' Bob, again this displays the typical noir convention of corruption and anxiety present in such classic films as 'Double Indemnity' and 'The Maltese Falcon'. Hartigan's heroic actions are demonstrated in his desire to save the innocent girl Nancy from the corrupt Senator's son, he clearly wishes to stop evil which is dominating the powerful leaders in the city. He cannot depend upon friends and is impelled by his conscience to oppose 'sin' as a moralistic cause which leads to his demise as females tend to do in typical noir narratives.
In terms of mise-en-scene the trench coat Hartigan wears is typical of the noir genre but it also resembles the typical comic-book convention of a 'caped super-hero', making the film somewhat of a hybrid. Applying Propp's character roles within the comic-book genre in 'Sin City' we can see how the cape has been used to represent a superhero, constantly blowing in the wind. However when Marv goes to kill or hurt somebody he removes his trench coat showing he is carrying out a good deed, his character is more complex, more of an anti-hero another typical noir convention.
Noir films typically also contain a femme-fatale and 'Sin City' contains many. Each male character has contact with a female character who could, in some way, be said to resemble this common character; for Hartigan it's Nancy, for Marv it's Wendy and for Dwight it's Shelley & Gail. Wheras Wendy and Shelley are typical femme-fatales, Nancy is also seen as an innocent young girl, displaying how the genre can be made different for a postmodern audience.
'District 9' is also a hybrid genre, mixing typical Sci-Fi conventions with documentary stylistics and narrative structure. Typical Sci-Fi conventions can be seen with the use of advanced technology, aliens, robotics and spaceships. These conventions are mixed though with a documentary style approach to the narrative structure creating a feeling that the events are 'real'. The use of 'faux' stock footage of news reports and interviews with experts and civilians makes the events seem more truthful or realistic. The use of hand-held camera also reinforces this reading as this is a typical cinematic technique of a documentary.
In the opening scenes of 'District 9' we see interviews with various 'expert' witnesses giving us clear exposition to the events which have led up to the alien landings. This is important in developing a realistic documentary approach to the narrative, something that may be seen as new to the typical Sci-Fi conventions of other films such as 'The Fly' or 'Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers'. The interaction between the main character Wikus and the cameraman, when he is unable to remove his microphone from his clothing, is playful in its approach to mixing the realistic and the fictional elements of the film. This is something not typical of the Sci-Fi genre but shows how genres repeat conventions and also make them different by mixing styles.
'Fish Tank' however is not a hybrid, it follows the codes and conventions of the social realist genre very closely. Its kitchen sink style relates to well established generic techniques and themes. It revolves around topical social issues (family dysfunction & underage sex), makes use of hand-held camera and can be viewed as gritty and realistic in terms of its representation of British social life. The mise-en-scene of a working class council estate can be seen in the opening sequence and is typical of the genre. In this scene we can instinctively conclude that this is of the social realist genre as Mia shouts "Tell your old man that I think he's a c*nt". This alone clearly shows her working class upbringing; but the use of long takes, hand-held camera and use of only diegetic urban sounds as she quickly walks through the estate can be seen as typical stylistic conventions of the social realist genre. Her brisk walking continues throughout the film and suggests a character who is going nowhere fast. Original social realist films of the 1960's such as 'Saturday Night and Sunday Morning' and 'A Taste of Honey' dealt with similar social issues and also contained similar techniques, but they tended to include non-diegetic music to support the action and emotional context to appeal to a mainstream audience. This shows how the genre has developed over time, as all genres do, but 'Fish Tank' has pushed the genre to new depths of realism by attempting to create more realistic representations of social situations.
The narrative issue of 15 year old Mia's desire for a sexual relationship with Connor, her mother's boyfriend, could also be seen as a controversial topic in today's society to spark debate, a regular consequence of the generic conventions of social realism.
In conclusion, all three texts are very typical of their genres, using many classic conventions from each different genre. In some cases these may be mixed with other genres to develop a wider audience and create difference for modern audiences.
The Lethal Innocents - Kirsty Cam
eron - 2007 - New Zealand
"Rita, a 15 year old girl who dances to a different beat, is relentlessly bullied by the queen bees. When they kill her cat, they go one step to far."
The main focus of the poster is of the lead character Rita. She is placed centre in centre of the frame and depth of field has been utilised to blur the characters behind her. This technique makes her stand out from the crowd and is a reflection of her character in the film and the way she is represented in the film. The fact she is framed in the centrally and her image takes up a large proportion of the poster shows her importance to the film. In addition her gaze is directly at the vie
wer. This eye contact combined with her facial expression creates a sense of unease in the viewer. The above techniques provide the viewer with an insight to the genre and feel of the text.
The title of the film is placed midway down the poster. As a result the name of the film isn't as immediately obvious as the close up of Rita. The misaligned, almost hand drawn, title further reflects how the character doesn't conform to the norm of society. Thus the audience is shown the personality of the character and due to conventions of genre, the audience can depict from her character profile that the film will be of the psychological drama genre. This is of a similar genre to my short film.
Must Peeter - Pritt Paasuke - 2008 - Estonia
Similar to 'The Lethal Innocents' poster, the 'Must Peeter' poster has a centralised close up of the main character of the film. However in this poster the camera angle is much lower and the actor isn't looking
at the camera. This shows the character to be powerful and mysterious. In addition the character is smoking and his facial expression is unclear. In British society this representation is common to the working class. I believe this to be similar to society in Estonia. This character profile is common to the codes and conventions of drama based films. The black and white image also provides the audience with an insight into the characters mood and feelings in the film further emphasising the drama genre of the text.
Unlike 'The Lethal Innocents' the title of ' Must Peeter' is in a bold serif font and takes up a much larger proportion of the poster. In addition the title is placed at the top of the image and doesn't overlay on to the main image of the character. This makes the title stand out much more and is much easier to read and recognise.
Guantes Blancos - Claudia Caballero - Spain
Unlike the previous two posters the 'Gauntes Blancos' poster contains full body images of the three main characters. In addition the images have turned from bitmap photos into cartoon like vector images. This style is a common to the crime drama genre. In addition the background of the image is in a similar vector style however depicts a city scape. Furthermore the characters are depicted in their full costume and holding their weapons. These are also common conventions of crime drama as well as the city location.
Similarly to 'The Lethal Innocents' the title is printed in a rough, worn looking sans serif font. The title is placed midway down he poster is similarly again to 'The Lethal Innocents' placed over the image of the character. This reinforces the fact the character is integral to film and in addition the character profile is one that you would commonly find in the genre of the film.
Shared Codes and Conventions
Each of the above posters are different in many ways. However some common features appear in them all. All of the posters contain images of the main characters in the film. Generally the main character is positioned centrally in the poster. Furthermore the lighting, colour scheme and position of the actors is a reflection of the characters in the film. Also the codes and conventions of the film genre are reflected in the layout, font choice and title positioning of the poster.