Week 5 – Genre

  1. What is the work about? (briefly discuss what the work itself is about and what “genre” the work falls under; In your writing, make sure to provide a formal definition of the genre you have identified).

Drive (2011) is a film about a nameless stunt driver who moonlights as a getaway driver for heists, it is set in Los Angeles, California around the 2010s. The movie is highly considered to fall into the action and noir genres of film. Action film, as defined by Oxford Bibliographies, “are built around a core set of characteristics: spectacular physical action; a narrative emphasis on fights, chases, and explosions” (Kendrick, 2017). Due to the stylistic decisions of the film, such as mostly being shot at night, having a plot based around stolen money, being based in an urban environment and a having dark, washed out setting, the film is widely considered to fall into the neo-noir sub genre of film as well (Andrews, 2016).

  1. What are the characteristics that are typical of the work’s genre? (for the genre you have classified the work under, research and discuss the common creative characteristics / traits of this genre).

Action films, as we know them today, first became a distinct genre in the 1970s, with films such as Dirty Harry, 1971; The Mechanic, 1972 and Mad Max, 1979 setting the core characteristics that hold true to this day. The key, defining characteristics of action films often involve physical violence, martial arts or firearms, with stylistic emphasis on these. There is often a clear protagonist and antagonist that the audience can relate to (Kendrick 2017). Film Noir, however, is much more nuanced than this, and is often hard to define. Film noir first appeared in the late 1940s and was often associated with an emphasis on cynicism, tilted camera angles and the blurring of the lines between ‘good and evil’ (Conard, 2007). Noir films are often dark explorations of what it means to be human, and the films often place the protagonist into morally ambiguous, challenging situations. The main character is often represented as an ‘anti-hero’, who is doing wrong things for the right reasons (Conard, 2007)

  1. Research and describe the characteristics of the “audio” which accompany the genre you have identified (for the audio used in the example work, describe the characteristics /traits of the music or sounds used; does the music or sounds used belong or conform to a certain genre? If so, provide a definition of the genre the music or sounds belong to and discuss or argue why)

Whilst action is quite a broad genre description, films in this category follow a fairly consistent structure when it comes to the use of audio. The sound is often there to complement the fast paced, aggressive movements within the film. An example of this would be fleshy impacts from a punch being thrown, a gunshot, or an explosion. (Mcstay, 2013). Music in action films is often reliant on percussive blasts and heavy, electric instrumentation to accent the violence on screen (Brownrigg, 2003, p. 235 – 241).

Drive takes a different approach to this, and utilizes ‘synthwave’, a genre that emerged in the 2000s that is heavily inspired by pop culture & the synthesizer movement of the 1980s. Synthwave is defined conceptually as the combination of a romanticized vision of a carefree summer day, and the ubiquitous love affair of science & technology prevalent in 1980’s culture.  (Ironskullet, 2018). Synthwave production focuses heavily on rolling, synthesized bass lines and slow, complimentary kicks. Cinematic synthwave “draws heavily from movie scores and soundtracks of the ‘80s, like John Carpenter’s Escape From New York, Vangelis’ Blade Runner, Tangerine Dream’s Thief, and Brad Fiedel’s The Terminator (Ironskullet, 2018). Using Synthwave as the title theme for Drive is thematically appropriate, as the films setting, concept and tone match very closely with the action films of the 1980s that utilized similar musical elements.

 

References

Kendrick, J. (2017). Action Cinema. Oxford Bibliographies. Retrieved from: http://www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199791286/obo-9780199791286-0157.xml

Conard, M. (2007) The Philosophy of Neo-Noir. The University Press of Kentucky. Retrieved from: https://muse.jhu.edu/book/3523

Andrews, A. (2016) Film Noir Genre Breakdown. Slideshare.net. Retrieved from: https://www.slideshare.net/MorganAndrews1/film-noir-genre-breakdown

Mcstay, B. (2013) Film Analysis of Action Genre. Prezi.com. Retrieved from: https://prezi.com/rdihjqekl85e/film-analysis-of-action-genre/

Brownrigg, M. (2003) Film Music and Film Genre. Core.ac.uk p 235 – 241. Retrieved from:  https://core.ac.uk/download/pdf/40108516.pdf

Ironskullet. (2018) What is Synthwave? 2018 Edition. Ironskullet.com. Retrieved from: https://ironskullet.com/2018/03/01/what-is-synthwave-2018-edition/

 

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