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Breaking Down A Few Movie Genres

Jun 13, 2008
Movie genres are as numerous and varied as the screenwriters, directors, producers, and actors who help make them possible. This article will identify some of the most common types.

Of all of the many movie genres in existence, the drama is inarguably one of the best known and most popular. Dramas are plot, as opposed to character driven, which means that the action of the story revolves around situations and circumstances affecting the characters.

Dramas are said to be the largest, or most encompassing film genre, incorporating the sub categories of the melodrama, the historical drama, and the romance film. Unlike many other movie genres, dramas do not rely heavily on the use of special effects.

Horror films are designed to do what their name implies, horrify and frighten. Horror movies often focus on common human fears, and feature monsters and terrifying situations.

The first horror film, Le Manoir Du Diable, or The Devils Castle, was made by French filmmaker Georges Meles in 1896. Although it was only two minutes long, it did contain many plot elements that later vampire and horror genre films would feature. The first popular horror film, Nosferatu, also dealt with vampires and was made in 1922, based on Bram Stokers novel, Dracula. Many, many, official and unofficial adaptations of the novel have been made over the years, but Max Shreks characterization of Count Orlock has become a classic horror movie icon.

Science fiction movies have genre characteristics similar to those of horror movies, particularly science fiction films dealing with supernatural creatures or monsters from outer space. Distant planets, alternate universes, and futuristic technology are common plot elements of the science fiction film.

Georges Meles is also credited with making the first science fiction film, A Trip To The Moon, which depicted the adventures of a group of astronauts who encounter a tribe of aliens after landing on the moon. This film is notable also for the stop action photography techniques employed within it.

Fantasy films are often included within this genre, since they share similar elements. The earliest science fiction writers, such as Jules Verne and HG Wells, often incorporated elements of fantasy into their science fiction novels, which have undergone many film adaptations since then.

Although movie genres are varied and sometimes intertwined, they nevertheless contain specific, unique thematic elements that distinguish them. Learning more about these elements and the history behind them leads to a greater understanding and enjoyment of the films themselves.
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