Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Genres - Why does this movie look so familiar ?

Hollywood loves familiarity. That’s why so many movies seem like something we have seen before. In reality, they follow a predictable format and pattern, such as genre and the rules that apply to the genre. For example, romantic comedies have followed the same pattern for years. Boy meets girl and through some misunderstanding girl dislikes boy. Boy begins to grow on girl. Boy does something wrong which causes girl to reject boy. Boy finally wins girl by revealing his true nature.

In horror films it goes something like this. We start with four characters usually in their late teens or early twenties. One good girl and one bad girl; one good boy and, one bad boy. Most of the time, the bad girl and bad boy have some type of romantic relationship. Our characters are on some type of trip to a faraway location. Along the way, they receive two warnings or foreshadowing of events to follow. The first usually involves a stop at a gas station or restaurant, where the locals know that these characters are doomed, but they fail to pick up the signals. The second warning usually comes with a closed road or some other unforeseen event. As they continue on, they will lose contact with the outside world. Now there is no escape from their fate. Eventually they run into a pack of crazy, insane killers. Each character is picked off one by one until the final climax, where one or two of our heroes survive the final confrontation. That happens after we think the final killer is dead only to discover he or she has survived to possibly threaten us in a future sequel.

You have been introduced to genre rules. Movies are grouped into genres such as comedy, science fiction, western, romantic comedy, action/adventure, suspense thrillers, horror, crime drama, urban, and fantasy. These are just a few. And under each genre, there are sub-genres such as buddy movies, road films, film noir, etc.

Now it’s easy to understand why so many of the movies we see feel familiar. When Hollywood executives have a hit, they want to repeat it. If you bought a movie ticket to see Knowing, a movie about the end of the world, why not offer you a similar film like 2012? All we have to do is to change the characters, the setting and the situation, but the format is the same. Once you understand the format, you can unlock all the movies that have ever been produced.

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