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Western genre analysis


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Resource for Media 1C

Resource for Media 1C

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  • 1. Hollywood Film Genre investiGation media 1Cmanea senior ColleGe PowerPoint desiGned and ComPiled by Kb Hammond For manea senior ColleGe media 1C
  • 2. Hollywood Film Genres What are they?Film genre (def’n): Films can be classified into categories according to the codes, conventions and narrative conventions used to construct them. These categories are known as film genres.Your local DVD store has separate sections for different genres of films, however within these genres you can often find sub-genres or blends of genres.The chart on the next page shows some of the Hollywood film genres, subgenres and blended genres.
  • 3. HorrorW er est n S cie nce F iction Roman A ent dv ur Action Dram e a ce
  • 4. Different Genres of Comedy Comedy is often considered one genre but in fact it can be divided into a number of sub genres and genre blends.Romantic comedy Parody Slapstick comedy Sci Fi Comedy Action Comedy Horror comedy
  • 5. analysis oF tHe Codes and ConventionsoF Film trailers From tHe We s te rn G e nre
  • 6. To succeed in any Media course, you MUST be able to define, understand and identify CODES and CONVENTIONS of various media works.CODES (def’n): Aspects of the text which help the audience make meaning. InMedia, we can divide the codes into SYMBOLIC, WRITTEN, AUDIO andTECHNICAL codes (see your “My Lesson Framework” booklet for a list.CONVENTIONS (def’n): Codes which an audience expects in a particular typeof media work or genre. They are the codes “conventionally” (normally) used tomake that type or genre of text.NARRATIVE CONVENTIONS (def’n): The expected CHARACTERS,SETTINGS, STORYLINES and THEMES of a particular type or genre ofmedia text. This analysis identifies the codes and conventions used to construct a Western film.
  • 7. Trailer 1: Tombstone (1993)
  • 8. Symbolic Codes Identified in the Tombstone Trailer Men: White collared shirts, button up vests, riding chaps,Costumes long pants, kerchiefs, cowboy hats, cowboy boots Women: Long 1910-era dresses, long gloves, bonnets, shawls, lace, feathers Men: short hair, all men have groomed moustaches,Hairstyles natural looking makeup – they are tanned and a littleand/or grubby looking Women: Hair is piled up on top of head and curled,Makeup natural looking makeup Pistols and rifles, gun holsters, cigar, coinsProps Serious facial expressions with lots of “staringBody competitions” between characters. Actions includelanguage: walking determinedly, riding horses fast, chasing enemies, shooting rifles and pistols, opening coats toFacial reveal gun holster to enemy, running away from “baddies”, having serious discussions.expressionsGesturesActions All earthy colours – browns, greys, black, burnt red &Colours white. Everything has a “semi-sepia” tone. No bright colours such as green, yellow and bright blue at all.
  • 9. Written Codes Identified in the Tombstone TrailerTitles T one – the title of the film displayed at the end of the ombst trailer. Glides in from front of screen. Written in shades of grey in something similar to Rosewood Standard font. Capitalised letters with serifs.Written Text Noneon ScreenCredits The director’s name fades in over title – suggests audience is familiar with his reputation. Next shot lists the key production company and crew and main cast members (celebrities of the 1990s, Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, are mentioned first). Next shot lists more actors, executive producers, writer and restates director’s name. Final shot states “Coming in December to a theatre near you. From Hollywood pictures”.Font All fonts have serifs (little ‘feet’ at the end of each letter) and are in capital letters. The look is masculine and unembellished.Language All written text language is informative rather than persuasive, emotive or descriptive.Techniques
  • 10. Audio Codes Identified in the Tombstone Trailer Click sound icon to hear the audio of this trailerDialogue Trailer features some key dialogue from film. Initially this dialogue allows viewer to identify who the main characters are (Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday). Then dialogue suggests what the conflict is (“the only real law around here is the cowboys”). There are snippets of Wyatt Earp trying to motivate others to “step up” and face the villains and also of the villain confronting and challenging Wyatt Earp. Again, this helps the audience predict what the central conflict will be.Music Begins with a subtle drum beat, electric guitar chords, symbol crashes. Once the two main characters are introduced through dialogue, the music beat picks up and there are a few subtle bugle calls. Music never fades but alternates from sounding “heroic” to “urgent” and back to “heroic”.Narration Male narrator speaks slowly with an American drawl. He explains the storyline and setting. He identifies the producer (“Hollywood Pictures presents”). Towards the end he names all main actors beginning with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer and finishing with famed veteran actor, Charlton Heston. He finishes his narration with some emotive phrases about justice.Sound Effects Lots of gun shots throughout trailer. Neighing horses and lightning are also heard.Language Dialogue is persuasive, serious and often aggressive. Narration is emotive and serious (“now the time has come for justice” “the west wouldtechniques never forget” “justice is coming to Tombstone”.)
  • 11. Technical Codes Identified in the Tombstone Trailer Eye level to make audience feel like they are there in theCamera action.Angles Worm’s eye view shots of Kurt Russell to make him look powerful and heroic. Wide shots of groups of men riding or walking into battleCamera Mid shots showing characters in conversationDistance Close ups of facial expressions – characters reactions to others are clearly captured. Extreme close ups of fingers on gun triggers Mostly slow pans and tracks to follow movement. ManyCamera shots are steady and all have been done on tripod.Movement Shots are short with straight cuts when showing actionEditing footage. Some shots of Kurt Russell looking concerned or motivating others are longer. There are a few cross fades and slow motion shots – especially when showing Kurt Russell in a group wide shot, then cutting in to a close up of just his face. When narrator says each actor’s name, there is footage of them on screen so audience can identify the roles these stars play. Natural looking light for each location. Indoor locationsLighting such as saloons are dimly lit – keeping with the limited lighting of the era. Lighting has been used to further illuminate smoke from cigars, guns, fires. Most of the footage is set during the day.
  • 12. Narrative Conventions Identified in the Tombstone Trailer Standard hero vs villain characterisation.Characters Heroes are former law enforcers – Wyatt Earp, Doc Holiday and local officers. Villains are the rogue cowboys who have had control of the town for a long time. Victims of the villains are the women and children of the town of Tombstone Mostly set within the town of Tombstone. Town settings include:Settings main street, inside the saloon, verandas of town buildings. There are also shots showing a desert- type area. Everything is very dusty and dry looking with limited greenery. Buildings are made of wood. The trailer seems to match the storyline of the main film. It begins byStoryline introducing key characters, settings and conflict. Wyatt Earp is a retired sheriff who is new to the town of Tombstone and looking for a fresh start with his family. The narration and snippets of dialogue reveal that Wyatt Earp and his friends believe law needs to be reinforced in the out-of-control Tombstone. They reassign themselves as law enforcers and are thus challenged by the cowboys. It suggests the hero wins with him looking powerful and victorious in the end. The audience will probably not be surprised by the storyline, however they will watch the film to see the famous actors and the exciting action. Former law enforcers are trying to restore justice to the town byConflict overpowering and chasing the rogue cowboys out of town.
  • 13. Trailer 2: A Fistful of Dollars (1964)
  • 14. Symbolic Codes Identified in the A Fistful of Dollars TrailerCostumes Collared shirts with suede and leather vests, long pants, cowboy boots, poncho (on main character), cowboy hats,Hairstyles Short hair and natural looking or no makeup. All characters have full moustaches or stubble –and/or they look very masculine.MakeupProps Pistols, gun holsters, cigarsBody Serious facial expressions with lots of “staring competitions” between characters and scowling.language: Actions include walking determinedly, riding horses, shoot outs between characters, openingFacial coats to reveal gun holster to enemy.expressionsGesturesActionsColours All earthy colours – browns, greys, black, burnt red & white. Everything has a “semi-sepia” tone. No bright colours such as green, yellow and bright blue at all.
  • 15. Written Codes Identified in the A Fistful of Dollars TrailerTitles A FISTFUL oF DOLLARS is displayed towards the end of the trailer and is white on a deep red background. NoneWrittentext onscreen Clint Eastwood (main actor) written over a shot of theCredits actor. Production company name fades in to the title shot. Font is the same for credits and titles. Font is sans serifFont (no little feet on the letters) and is mostly capitals with a few random lower case letters. Writing is white and looks masculine. All written text language is informative rather thanLanguage persuasive, emotive or descriptive.techniques
  • 16. Audio Codes Identified in the A Fistful of Dollars Trailer Click sound icon to hear the audio of this trailerDialogue Short sentences from main character, mostly threatening. Other characters bully him, then the main character responds with some calm yet intimidating threats before carrying out these threats.Music Drum beats – especially after the narrator says something. Someone whistling a tune with some flute or piccolo music.Narration Narrator is male with a deep, slow voice with an American drawl. Begins with narrator emphasising the character has no name (“this short cigar belongs to the man with no name…”). Later, gives some description about the main character – presenting him as dangerous. Finally, introduces the actor playing the man with “no name” (Clint Eastwood) and states that the film is unique in style and adventure. He says that “A Fistful of Dollars” is the first motion picture of its kind, it won’t be the last. This presents the film as original, innovative and perhaps as a pioneer for future Western films.Sound Effects Lots of gun shots throughout trailer. Horse neighing.Language Dialogue is serious, cliched and often aggressive. Narration is persuasive and serious in tone.techniques
  • 17. Technical Codes Identified in the A Fistful of Dollars Trailer Repeated worm’s eye view shots of the manCamera with no name to make him look powerful,Angles threatening and perhaps heroic. Eye level Wide, establishing shots of groups of men andCamera man with no name to show their location,Distance relationship and distance from each other. Mid shots showing “villains” – makes them less personable than the main character who is filmed using close ups of his scowling facial expressions. Extreme close ups of fingers on gun triggers Mostly still shots done on tripod however, thereCamera is the occasional slow pan to follow theMovement movements of the main character and one tilt up from his gun holster to his serious facial expression. Straight cuts with a mix of short and long shotsEditing to begin with. When the action increases about half way through, the shots are shorter and the transition faster. It slows down again Natural looking light for each location. AllLighting footage set during the day.
  • 18. Narrative Conventions Identified in the A Fistful of Dollars Trailer Man with no name (Clint Eastwood) is presented as aCharacters solitary man who is fighting against everyone else in the town. He is the hero but in the trailer is not presented as likeable or friendly, nor does he seem to be killing others as a form of justice and he seems to be killing others simply because they cross him (it is not for justice). Main streets of a deserted looking townSettings In the American desert. There is a hanging tree. Man with no name enters the town and is immediatelyStoryline confronted by the villains who try to shoot and kill him. He then goes on a search for more villains. It ends with him having killed a group of four men and walking back down the main street of town. It is unclear what the storyline of the film would be. Man with no name versus nearly everyone else inConflict town who is rude to him.
  • 19. Common Codes for Both TrailersThere are a number of similarities between the two trailers which allow us to identifysome of the conventions of the Western genre. These include:Costumes: Cowboy boots, cowboy hats, collared shirts and vests, long pants, gunholsters.Props: Pistols and rifles, some characters smoke cigarsHairstyles and makeup: Characters are tanned and males have facial hairColours: Earthy colours in a semi-sepia tone. Definitely no bright colours such asgreen or yellow.Titles and credits: Written in masculine font often capitalised. Westerns seem to valuetheir lead actors – perhaps these films are appealing because of the stars who act inthem??Dialogue: Serious and aggressive toneNarration: Male narrator with slow, American drawl. He describes characters andstoryline.Music: Drum beat, guitar chords, piccolo – all match action on screenSound effects: Gun shotsCamera Angles: Frequent use of worm’s eye view to portray the main character aspowerful, intimidating and heroic.Camera Movement: Limited to slow pans, tracks and tilts. Mostly still shotsEditing: Straight cuts with the occasional cross fade. Mixture of longer and shortershots depending on amount of action on screen.Lighting: Natural, day light.
  • 20. Common Narrative Conventions of Both TrailersCharacters:• Hero (always a solitary male, sometimes with supporters)• Villains (usually male lawbreakers)• Victims (older men, women, children)Setting:• American town in desert environment. Town streets are a dominant setting.Storyline:• Hero arrives in a town and decides to save the victims from the villains. He begins his quest for justice or power and is challenged by the villains who attempt to kill him in various shoot outs. He survives the shoot outs and ultimately wins the fight(s) against the villains.Conflict:• Hero versus villain (main conflict)• Villain versus victim (minor conflict)
  • 21. Conventions of the Western GenreJust a reminder:The conventions are the codes which an audience expects in a particulartype of media work or genre.They are the codes “conventionally” (normally) used to make that type orgenre of text.People who prefer to watch specific genres (Westerns, Horrors, Romances)are considered to be the “target audience”.The target audience expects certain things to happen in the film – theyknow that the film maker will use the conventions of the genre to appeal tothem.We can identify the conventions of unfamiliar genres by comparing two ormore texts from the same genre – in this case, I compared the trailer ofTombstone to the trailer of A Fistful of Dollars.