Discuss two American genres choosing from the western; the melodrama; the gangster film; the thriller.
The word genre is used in film to describe and categorize the different types of films which have specific elements which make them the same as others in the same genre. There are several different genres examples of which are Western, Thriller, Melodrama, Horror, Comedy, Science Fiction and Gangster.
Each genre film has distinctive characteristics in which to attract and appeal to the audience and as such, these identifiable elements allow the audience to make an informed choice about which type of film they would like to see. But do genre films reflect the society in which they were made? In my opinion they do but how do they? I will attempt to show that they do by looking at the Western and Gangster genres specifically.
The first genre I would like to discuss is the Western. Typically, a traditional Western can be identified by the Stetson wearing cowboys (the good guys), American Indians (the bad guys), saloon girls, a frontier style landscape, gunfights and the horse as the main mode of transport. These codes are a stylistic convention used to indicate a film’s genre and are called ‘iconography’. The presence of these specific and familiar codes help to reconfirm the type of film we are watching and what we expect to get out of it.
Most westerns are set in the nineteenth century but appear to portray the social and political problems of America at the time when the film was released. For example, Stagecoach (Ford, 1939) was made in 1939 based on the short story ‘Stage to Lordsburg’ by Ernest Haycox. This was a notable period in American history having just come through the Great Depression, following the Wall Street crash, leading up to the start of World War II. According to Andrew Bergman, the western, as a genre, was unpopular during the depression and it is widely regarded that due to the ‘low...