A film, also called a movie or motion picture, is a series of still or moving images. It is produced by recording photographic images with cameras, or by creating images using animation techniques or visual effects. The process of filmmaking has developed into an art form and industry.
Films are cultural artifacts created by specific cultures, which reflect those cultures, and, in turn, affect them. Film is considered to be an important art form, a source of popular entertainment and a powerful method for educating – or indoctrinating – citizens. The visual elements of cinema give motion pictures a universal power of communication. Some films have become popular worldwide attractions by using dubbing or subtitles that translate the dialogue into the language of the viewer.
Films are made up of a series of individual images called frames. When these images are shown rapidly in succession, a viewer has the illusion that motion is occurring. The viewer cannot see the flickering between frames due to an effect known as persistence of vision, whereby the eye retains a visual image for a fraction of a second after the source has been removed. Viewers perceive motion due to a psychological effect called beta movement.
The origin of the name "film" comes from the fact that photographic film (also called film stock) has historically been the primary medium for recording and displaying motion pictures. Many other terms exist for an individual motion picture, including picture, picture show, moving picture, photo-play and flick. A common name for film in the United States is movie, while in Europe the term film is preferred. Additional terms for the field in general include the big screen, the silver screen, the cinema and the movies.
In film theory, genrerefers to the method based on similarities in the narrative elements from which films are constructed. Most theories of film genre are borrowed from literary genre criticism. As with genre in a literary context, there is a great deal of debate over how to define or categorize genres. Besides the basic distinction in genre between fiction and documentary (from which hybrid forms emerged founding a new genre, docufiction), film genres can be categorized in several ways. Fictional films are usually categorized according to their setting, theme topic, mood, or format. The setting is the milieu or environment where the story and action takes place. The theme or topic refers to the issues or concepts that the film revolves around. The mood is the emotional tone of the film. Format refers to the way the film was shot (e.g., anamorphic widescreen) or the manner of presentation (e.g.: 35 mm, 16 mm or 8 mm). An additional way of categorizing film genres is by the target audience. Some film theorists argue that neither format nor target audience are film genres. Film genres often branch out into subgenres, as in the case of the courtroom and trial-focused subgenre of drama known as the legal drama. They can be combined to form hybrid genres
List of film genre
ActionAction film is a film genre where one or more heroes is thrust into a series of challenges that require physical feats, extended fights and frenetic chases. They tend to feature a resourceful character struggling against incredible odds, which may involve life-threatening situations, an evil villain, and/or being pursued, with victory achieved at the end after difficult physical efforts and violence. Story and character development are generally secondary to explosions, fist fights, gunplay and car chases.
While action films have traditionally been a reliable source of revenue for movie studios, relatively few action films garner critical praise, mainly because of their two-dimensional heroes or villains. Nevertheless, Hollywood has been making more action films than ever, in part because advancements in CGI have made it cheaper and easier to create action sequences and other visual effects that required professional stunt crews and dangerous staging in the past. However, audience reactions to action films containing significant amounts of CGI have been mixed, and films where computer animation is not believable are often met with criticism.
While action has long been an element of films, the "action film" genre began to develop in the 1970s. The genre is closely linked with the thriller and adventure film genres, and it may sometimes have elements of spy fiction and espionage.
AdventureAdventure films are a genre of film. Unlike action films, they often use their action scenes preferably to display and explore exotic locations in an energetic way.
The subgenres of adventure films include, swashbuckler film, disaster films, and historical dramas - which is similar to the epic film genre. Main plot elements include quests for lost continents, a jungle and/or desert settings, characters going on a treasure hunts and heroic journeys for the unknown. Adventure films are mostly set in a period background and may include adapted stories of historical or fictional adventure heroes within the historical context. Kings, battles, rebellion or piracy are commonly seen in adventure films. Adventure films may also be combined with other movie genres such as, science fiction, fantasy and sometimes war films.
AnimationAnimation is the rapid display of a sequence of images to create an illusion of movement. The most common method of presenting animation is as a motion picture or video program, although there are other methods. This type of presentation is usually accomplished with a camera and a projector or a computer viewing screen which can rapidly cycle through images in a sequence. Animation can be made with either hand rendered art, computer generated imagery, or three-dimensional objects, e.g. puppets or clay figures, or a combination of techniques. The position of each object in any particular image relates to the position of that object in the previous and following images so that the objects each appear to fluidly move independently of one another. The viewing device displays these images in rapid succession, usually 24, 25 or 30 frames per second.
Comedy film is a genre of film in which the main emphasis is on humour. These films are designed to elicit laughter from the audience. Comedies are generally light-hearted dramas and are made to amuse and entertain the audiences. The comedy genre often humorously exaggerates situations, ways of speaking, or the action and characters.
Films in this style traditionally have a happy ending (the black comedy being an exception). One of the oldest genres in film, some of the very first silent movies were comedies. Comedy, unlike other film genres, puts much more focus on individual stars, with many former stand-up comic transitioning to the film industry due to their popularity. While many comic films are lighthearted stories with no intent other than to amuse, others contain political or social commentary.
The comedy genre can be considered the oldest film genre (and one of the most prolific and popular). Comedy was ideal for the early silent films, as it was dependent on visual action and physical humour rather than sound. Slapstick, one of the earliest forms of comedy, poked fun at physical mishap, usually in practical jokes, accidents and water soakings.
DisasterA disaster film is a film genre that has an impending or ongoing disaster (such as a damaged airliner, fire, shipwreck, disease, an asteroid collision or natural calamities) as its subject. Along with showing the spectacular disaster, these films concentrate on the chaotic events surrounding the disaster, including efforts for survival, the effects upon individuals and families, and 'what-if' scenarios.
In the '90s, a whole new style of disaster films hit the cinema, boasting increased CGI and big budgets.
Most disaster films have large-scale special effects, huge casts of stars faced with the crisis and a persevering hero or heroine called upon to lead the struggle against the threat, and many plot-lines affecting multiple characters. In many cases, the 'evil' or 'selfish' individuals are the first to succumb to the conflagration.
DramaA drama film is a film genre that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, sexuality, poverty, class divisions, violence against women and corruption put the characters in conflict with themselves, others, society and even natural phenomena. Drama is the most broad of movies genres and includes subgenres as romantic drama, sport films, period drama, courtroom drama and crime.
At the center of a drama is usually a character or characters who are in conflict at a crucial moment in their lives. They often revolve around families; movies like Ordinary People dig under the skin of everyday life to ask big questions and touch on the deepest emotions of normal people. Dramas often, but not always, have tragic or at least painful resolutions and concern the survival of some tragic crisis, like the death of a family member, or a divorce. Some of the greatest screen performances come from dramas, as there is ample opportunity for actors to stretch into a role that most other genres cannot afford.
EpicAn epic film is a genre that emphasizes human drama on a grand scale. Epics are more ambitious in scope than other film genres, and their ambitious nature helps to differentiate them from similar genres such as the period piece or adventure film. Epic historical films often take a historical or imagined event, or a mythic, legendary, or heroic figure and add an extravagant, spectacular setting and lavish costumes, accompanied by a sweeping musical score, and an ensemble cast of bankable stars, making them among the most expensive of films to produce. Some of the most common subjects of epics are royalty, gladiators, great military leaders, or leading personalities or figures from various periods in world history. Sometimes referred to as costume dramas, they depict the world of a period setting, often incorporating historical pageantry, specially designed costuming and wardrobes, exotic locales, spectacle, lavish decor and a sweeping visual style. They often transport viewers to other worlds or eras, such as ancient civilizations, biblical settings, the Middle Ages, the Victorian era, or turn-of-the-century America. Films involving modern battle sequences are also common settings in the epic film genre, as are westerns, and science fiction films set in space, on earth or other planets, with science fiction-oriented battle scenes on a massive scale or with a futuristic backdrop.
A family film is a film genre that is designed to appeal to a variety of age groups and, thus, families. Family films generally do not contain content that would be deemed unsuitable for children.
Fantasy films are films with fantastic themes, usually involving magic, supernatural events, make-believe creatures, or exotic fantasy worlds. The genre is considered to be distinct from science fiction film and horror film, although the genres do overlap. Fantasy films often have an element of magic, myth, wonder, escapism, and the extraordinary.
In fantasy films, the hero often undergoes some kind of mystical experience and must ask for assistance from powerful, superhuman forces. Ancient Greek mythological figures or Arabian Nights-type narratives are the typical storylines. Flying carpets, magic swords and spells, dragons, and ancient religious relics or objects are common elements. Bizarre and imaginary, invented lands include sci-fi worlds, fairy tale settings or other whimsical locales are common settings.
Usually, the main characters in fantasies are princes or princesses. Some fantasy-type films might also include quasi-religious or supernatural characters such as angels, lesser gods, fairies or in the case of live action/animation hybrids cartoon characters. Or they include gnomes, dwarves and elves. Strange phenomena and incredible characters (like monstrous characters that are divine or evil spirits or magicians and sorcerers) are put into fantasy films, and often overlap with supernatural films.
Fantasy films are most likely to overlap with the film genres of science fiction and horror. When the narrative of a fantasy film tends to emphasize advanced technology in a fantastic world, it may be considered predominantly a science fiction film. Or when the supernatural/fantasy forces are specifically intended to frighten the audience, a fantasy film falls more within the horror genre.
HorrorHorror films is a film genre seeking to elicit a negative emotional reaction from viewers by playing on the audience's primal fears. They often feature scenes that startle the viewer, and the macabre and the supernatural are frequent themes. Thus they may overlap with the fantasy, supernatural, and thriller genres.
Horror films often deal with the viewer's nightmares, hidden fears, revulsions and terror of the unknown. Plots within the horror genre often involve the intrusion of an evil force, event, or personage, commonly of supernatural origin, into the everyday world. Prevalent elements include ghosts, aliens, vampires, werewolves, curses, satanism, demons, gore, torture, vicious animals, monsters, zombies, cannibals, and serial killers. Conversely, movies about the supernatural are not necessarily always horrific.
RomanceRomance films are love stories recorded in visual media for broadcast in theaters and on television that focus on passion, emotion, and the affectionate involvement of the main characters and the journey that their love takes through courtship or marriage. Romance films make the love story or the search for love the main plot focus. Occasionally, lovers face obstacles such as finances, physical illness, various forms of discrimination, psychological restraints or family that threaten to break their union of love. As in all romantic relationships, tensions of day-to-day life, temptations (of infidelity), and differences in compatibility enter into the plots of romantic films.
Romantic films often explore the essential themes of love at first sight, young with older love, unrequited love, obsessive love, sentimental love, spiritual love, forbidden love, sexual and passionate love, sacrificial love explosive and destructive love, and tragic love. Romantic films serve as great escapes and fantasies for viewers, especially if the two people finally overcome their difficulties, declare their love, and experience life "happily ever after", implied by a reunion and final kiss. In romantic television series, the development of such relationships may play out over many episodes, and different characters may become intertwined in different romantic arcs.
Science fictionScience fiction film is a film genre that uses science fiction: speculative, science-based depictions of phenomena that are not necessarily accepted by mainstream science, such as extraterrestrial life forms, alien worlds, extrasensory perception, and time travel, often along with futuristic elements such as spacecraft, robots, cyborgs, interstellar space travel or other technologies. Science fiction films have often been used to focus on political or social issues, and to explore philosophical issues like the human condition. In many cases, tropes derived from written science fiction may be used by filmmakers ignorant of or at best indifferent to the standards of scientific plausibility and plot logic to which written science fiction is traditionally held.
A superhero film, superhero movie, or superhero motion picture is an action, fantasy and science fiction film, that is focused on the actions of one or more superheroes; individuals who usually possess superhuman abilities relative to a normal person and are dedicated to protecting the public. These films are almost always action-oriented, and the first film of a particular character often includes a focus on the origin of the special powers including the first fight against the character's most famous supervillain archenemy.
Most superhero movies are based on comic books, where the fantasy genre is most dominant in the medium's mainstream image.
Teen films is a film genre targeted at teenagers and young adults in which the plot is based upon the special interests of teenagers, such as coming of age, first love, rebellion, conflict with parents, teen angst, and alienation. Often these normally serious subject matters are presented in a glossy, stereotyped or trivialized way. Some teen films appeal to young males while others appeal to young females.
Films in this genre are often set in high schools, or contain characters that are of high school age.
Thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and television programming that uses suspense, tension and excitement as the main elements. Thrillers heavily stimulate the viewer's moods giving them a high level of anticipation, ultra-heightened expectation, uncertainty, surprise, anxiety and/or terror. Thriller films tend to be adrenaline-rushing, gritty, rousing and fast-paced. Literary devices such as red herrings, plot twists and cliffhangers are used extensively. A thriller is villain-driven plot, whereby he or she presents obstacles that the hero must overcome.
The aim for thrillers is to keep the audience alert and on the edge of their seats. The protagonist in these films is set against a problem – an escape, a mission, or a mystery. No matter what sub-genre a thriller film falls into, it will emphasize the danger that the protagonist faces. The tension with the main problem is built on throughout the film and leads to a highly stressful climax. The cover-up of important information from the viewer, and fight and chase scenes are common methods in all of the thriller subgenres, although each subgenre has its own unique characteristics and methods.
Common subgenres are psychological thrillers, crime thrillers and mystery thrillers. Another common subgenre of thriller is the spy genre which deals with fictional espionage.