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1 Lesson 06: Film Genre Professor Aaron Baker. 2 Previous Lecture Cinematography The Photographic Image Lenses Framing Camera Movement The Long Take Cinematography.

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Presentation on theme: "1 Lesson 06: Film Genre Professor Aaron Baker. 2 Previous Lecture Cinematography The Photographic Image Lenses Framing Camera Movement The Long Take Cinematography."— Presentation transcript:

1 1 Lesson 06: Film Genre Professor Aaron Baker

2 2 Previous Lecture Cinematography The Photographic Image Lenses Framing Camera Movement The Long Take Cinematography in Raging Bull (1980)

3 3 In this Lecture… Film Genre The Gangster Film Goodfellas (1990)

4 Part I: Film Genre 4

5 Genre French Term A film genre is a certain category of movie. Conventions define it. Examples include the western, the science fiction film, the horror movie, the musical. 5

6 6 Expectations We inevitably anticipate a certain kind of film when we watch a movie. Films that present the features we expect are called genre films.

7 7 Blockbuster Hits Some of the top earning films in the history of Hollywood are genre films: Place Title Genre 1. Titanic Disaster film 2. Lord of the Rings Fantasy 3. Star Wars Science fiction

8 8 Entertainment Genre films are often seen as entertainment: FunFun EscapistEscapist FormulaicFormulaic Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974)

9 But Less Conventional Films Get More Respect Steven Spielberg’s genre films made big profits. But he didn’t win an Oscar for best director until he made a “serious” social drama: Schindler’s List (1993). 9

10 10 Disrespect Genre films not only are often viewed as aesthetically inferior, some genres get more disrespect than others.

11 11 Serious Drama While a social protest film like Erin Brockovich has been praised for raising serious issues like environmental degradation...

12 12 Melodrama This genre is often dismissed as insignificant because it emphasizes: Emotional stories about family conflict; with female protagonists Is aimed at female viewers.

13 13 But… Melodrama can be about important issues of family, gender politics. And minus issue of environmental contamination, Erin Brockovich is a family melodrama with a female lead !

14 14 Contemporary Horror Films Contemporary Horror Films Scare audiences to entertain. But some also question family. On this issue they are a lot like melodramas and social dramas.

15 15 Family Dysfunction In It’s Alive (1974), a couple gives birth to a monster. In The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and The Hills Have Eyes (1977), whole families are killers.

16 16 Fun and Serious So, some genre films are-- commercial movies with a pleasurable veneer that conceal social critique, presenting disturbing subject matter

17 Part II: Gangster Films 17

18 Gangster Films Guns, Violence, Crime Money, Sex Rise/Fall of Gangster As Too Egotistical, Greedy, Brutal 18 The Public Enemy (1931)

19 Entertainment Appeal Enjoy Boldness, Swagger, Charisma of Gangster But We Feel Secure When He’s Brought Down 19

20 20 Muskateers of Pig Alley (1912) D. W. Griffith defines gangster film Real NY Location Real Street Toughs Immigrants As Criminal Threat

21 21 Prohibition Volstead Act outlaws alcohol Controls immigrant workers Less Leisure, More Work Bootleggers get rich

22 22 Al Capone Born 1899 in BrooklynBorn 1899 in Brooklyn Chicago in 1919Chicago in heads Chicago rackets1925 heads Chicago rackets Grossing $100 Million Year From Bootlegging and Prostitution Grossing $100 Million Year From Bootlegging and Prostitution Known as Scarface for knife scars on cheekKnown as Scarface for knife scars on cheek

23 23 Canonical Gangster Films Little Caesar (1931), Public Enemy (1931), Scarface (1932) Based on journalistic writings about Capone and other gangsters Box office hits

24 Censorship Censorship Warner Bros. added disclaimer to Little Caesar, Public Enemy: not glorifying criminals. Scarface director Howard Hawks, and producer Howard Hughes forced to add 2 scenes criticizing media glorification of gangsters. Scarface release delayed 2 years. 24

25 25 Will Hayes Former Chair of Repub. National Committee and Postmaster General Hired by Hollywood as President of MPAA Established Production Code

26 26 Catholic Legion of Decency Influenced content of Hollywood films from within. Avoided mistake of Protestant reformers with Prohibition, who tried to legislate social change.

27 27 Wall Street Crash October,1929 Millions in U.S. out of work and homeless in 1930s. Widespread disillusionment with American economy. Depression

28 s Film Gangsters From working class hardest hit by Depression Ethnic Between Cultures

29 29 Gangster Films Renewed Fear of Cultural Difference 1920s: –Prohibition –KKK targeted Catholics as well as African-Americans –Anti immigrant acts Italian immigrant family at Ellis Island

30 30 Immigrants Expected to Be Individuals Privileged Identity in Capitalist Society Give Up “Old World” Culture Reject Identity from Ethnic Group

31 31 Prof. Jonathan Munby 30s Gangster Films: –Show Ethnic Resentment at Discrimination –Reject Idea That Immigrants Must Accept Dominant Culture

32 32 Gangster Asserts Equality with Higher Classes, Native Born Whites Entrepreneur—But in Wrong, Criminal Ways! Once Rich, No Limits to His Consumption (Booze, Cars, Clothes, Sex)

33 33 Will Hayes and MPAA Forced studios to control/punish gangsters within films. All Killed: –Rico in Little Caesar –Tony in Scarface –Tommy in Public Enemy

34 34 Bank Robber John Dillinger Popular Folk Hero for the PoorPopular Folk Hero for the Poor Killed by police in 1934 at Biograph movie theater in ChicagoKilled by police in 1934 at Biograph movie theater in Chicago 1935 Will Hayes declared moratorium on gangster films1935 Will Hayes declared moratorium on gangster films Fear of Dillinger’s glorification in moviesFear of Dillinger’s glorification in movies

35 35 Synchronized Sound Added Realism (Sound of cars, Guns, Nightclubs)Added Realism (Sound of cars, Guns, Nightclubs) Gangsters Spoke in Own VoicesGangsters Spoke in Own Voices Urban/Ethnic slangUrban/Ethnic slang Robinson, Cagney, Muni Ethnic ActorsRobinson, Cagney, Muni Ethnic Actors Robinson and Cagney

36 Genres Develop/Change Over Time Technology. E.g. Synch. Sound Important to Gangster Films, Musicals Hits Establish Popularity of Certain Genres/Cycles Change Via Mixing of Conventions Individual Films Can Revise, Reject Conventions 36

37 Mixing Bladerunner (1982) Part Sci Fi: -Set in Future -Technology Part Detective Story: -Urban Locale -Noir Lighting -Violence and Passion 37

38 Prominent Films Can Change Genre Revise Conventions Set a Trend for Other Films 38

39 Robert Ray: Corrected Genre Films Use Expected Genre Conventions Also Subtext of Social Critique E.gs. The Godfather (1972), The Godfather, Part II (1974) Genre/Ganster Films entertained by meeting our expectations, yet also offered ideas that challenged us 39

40 40 As a gangster film it has the usual conventions: Charismatic Criminals Wealth from Crime Sex Violence Godfather, Part II

41 41 But along with these genre conventions… Godfather, Part II also presents a critique of capitalism by paralleling the Corleone crime family with legitimate business.

42 42 In this scene… Mafia family head Michael Corleone (Al Pacino) attends a meeting in Havana with U.S. corporate leaders. Please watch a clip from Godfather, Part II.

43 Part III: Goodfellas 43

44 Goodfellas Based on Nicholas Pileggi’s, Wise Guys (1985) Journalistic About Henry Hill Lucchese Crime Family Insider/Outsider Sicilian/Irish 44 Nicholas Pileggi

45 45 Director Martin Scorsese Like Hill Ethnic (Italian American) Grew Up in New York’s Little Italy Both Insider/Outsider

46 46 Henry Hill Had access to mob information because not subject to rules secrecy for “made” men Scorsese had similar attraction to, detachment from Mob Both “Traitors”

47 47 Witness Protection Program Hill kicked out for more crimes. Most of those he fingered died in jail. “What I’m proud of is (Scorsese) didn’t glamorize it. They’re not nice people.”– Henry Hill

48 Documentary Style Voice Over Mob Oral Culture Stories from Little Italy Look of That World 48

49 49 Graphic/RepellentGraphic/Repellent No Exciting GunfightsNo Exciting Gunfights No Violence as EntertainmentNo Violence as Entertainment Violence

50 50 But Not Just Realism Stylized Point of View Shots Freeze-Frames Expressionist Mobile Camera Please watch a clip from Goodfellas.

51 Usual Rise and Fall Structure Criminal Money Frenzied Consumption Eventually Too Much: -Money, Greed -Drugs -Violence 51

52 52 Wiseguy Ethos Henry: “Those goody good people who worked.... They were suckers. If we wanted something, we just took it.”

53 53 Copacabana Long Take Realism and Stylization Image of Excess Henry Seduces Lifestyle Seduces Him Please watch this scene.

54 Tommy’s Downfall: Too Violent Disregard for Rules Killing of Billy Batts (Made Man) “He’s a Cowboy” 54

55 55 Drugs and Henry’s Downfall “Someone’s watching” Frenzied Lifestyle Drugs and Long Sentences Loss of Rispetto/Omerta

56 56 Jimmy Conway Also Half in/Out Mentor to Henry “Never rat on your friends” Yet Greedy, Reckless

57 57 Crime in Gangster Films Because of environment Lack of other opportunity Nicole Rafter on Crime Movies: “Environmental [causes]... illustrating how criminalistic subcultures or other situational factors can drive people to crime”.

58 58 In Goodfellas Not Society’s Fault Karen Middle Class/“It turned me on” Nicole Rafter, Other Cause for Crime: “Aspirations for a better life (more money, more excitement, more opportunity to rise through the class structure)... crime over dull conformity.”

59 59 Mob in Goodfellas Mirrors Larger Society: Rules and Transgression Greed and Overconsumption Violence The Goodfellas eat well even in prison.

60 Goodfellas as Corrected Gangster Film Charismatic Gangsters Money, Violence Rise, Fall They are Just Like Larger Society: -Too Much Self Interest -Overconsumption -1980s Supply Side Economics -Decade of Greed 60

61 61 Summary Genre Films Entertainment and Social Critique Conventions and Change Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas

62 62 End of Lecture 6 Next Lecture: Film Authorship


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