Week 3: Introduction to genre – Unit 4


In this task I’ll be looking into the different genres of film and how we associate certain plot points with certain genres. I’ll also be looking more deeply into the genre of film noir and the kind of

Genre is the type or category of movie that is made.

Examples of Genres:

  • Horror
  • Comedy
  • Western
  • Action
  • Documentary
  • Sci-fi
  • Rom-Com
  • Thriller

It is the expectation of what kind of movie you are going to be watching.

The genre is shown by how the movie looks and the kind of narrative it has. A plot about ghosts and demons will clearly come under the horror and thriller categories, however a story about deep space exploration will come under Sci-fi.

The genre is also portrayed by the kind of technical skills used to create the film, for instance a classical stereotype of a western is to have a lot of Establishing shots of the Wild West and Extreme Close Ups in gunfights and stand offs. Also you wouldn’t expect a Rom-Com to have a fast paced sequence with lots of cuts like an action movie would. The lighting is also very important to portray genre, for example horror movies will often have a very dark theme and so not a lot of lighting.

The iconography is also very important, in a western there will be guns, cowboy hats(Stetsons), horses and saloon doors. If you didn’t see any of these items then you’d be wondering if you had walked into the wrong screen.

The Mise-en-scene can refer to all visual styles on-screen and basically everything in the shot, Actors, Props, set etc and so this is vital to the genre, as the locations actors and clothing can portray a certain mood that gives the film its genre.

Film Noir:

Film Noir was the example we used to show how lighting was used in films to give off different effects. The genre was mostly based around cops or private detectives trying to solve a crime and catch the bad guy. As the genre started at the beginning of WW2 there was a common theme that the good guy would always win, as at the time one of the only ways to escape from the real world for a while was to go to the cinema and people didn’t want to see the bad guy (often German or from a made up country) win. The films were in black and white and used a lot of shadows. One of the most iconic technical features they used was the shadow of the venetian blinds. As seen here:

film noir venetian blinds

Soft light would be used on the face of the female in Film Noir movies when in a scene to make her look more attractive and make the scene more romantic. As seen below.


Another common plot point would be a femme fatale, these were female characters who wanted nothing but independence. They would not play the role that society said women should play. Like being a mother and a devoted wife to her husband. By the end of the movie usually the femme fatale would decide to settle down with a husband or was punished for her actions. This made men feel comforted due to the rise in women working in factories and offices during WW2.


I enjoyed this lesson and learnt a lot about classic film noir techniques that I wasn’t aware of before. Including the femme fatale type character I didn’t know had a specific name to it. If I was ever to do a project that needed a film noir style to it then I’d feel confident that I could recreate some aspects. I knew most of the things that we did about genre, however it was a good refresher.

Week 3: Introduction to genre – Unit 4

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