Omega Man and I am Legend Handbook

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American Film Comparison FM2 Section C Genre is therefore a delicately balanced concept between the expected and the different. Too much of one or the other and it runs the risk of audiences rejecting it. Genre dictates audience expectation, and once used to the idea of what a film of a certain genre should be we are often not prepared to accept anything less. Write down your own definition of genre here: The exam board states: Genre is a French word meaning ‘type’ or ‘kind’ FM2 Section C 2

Transcript of Omega Man and I am Legend Handbook

The Omega Man

FM2 Section C

FM2 Section C

American Film Comparison

The mega Man


I Am Legend

The exam board states:

1. Candidates are required to compare and contrast two films either from the same genre or dealing with a specific theme.

2. Both questions will have an emphasis on the relationship between aspects of the films' narrative in relation to generic characteristics.

3. The first question will be based primarily on narrative study.

4. The second will be based on contextual study.

5. Issues of representation will be common to both questions.

This exam focuses more on macro elements within films. The macro elements of film form are different from the micro elements in that they are not physical tangible things like cinematography or lighting, but instead they concentrate on the content of the film. Macro elements are the ideas, concepts, messages and values within the film and most of these are embodied in the genre and narrative of the work.


Genre is a French word meaning type or kind

The study of genre focuses on convention and collective meaning.

It relies on a films conformity to a set of pre-existing conventions.

Genre study groups together a large body of films according to the common attributes that make the film a typical example of its type.

Genre acts as shorthand for the formula of a particular type of film.

When you find it difficult to categorise a film into a specific genre it may be because it is a hybrid genre. This means it is a mixture of more than one genre and therefore contains elements from each. For example a romantic comedy contains both funny and romantic elements.

Genre is therefore a delicately balanced concept between the expected and the different. Too much of one or the other and it runs the risk of audiences rejecting it. Genre dictates audience expectation, and once used to the idea of what a film of a certain genre should be we are often not prepared to accept anything less.

Write down your own definition of genre here:

Having seen so many films we are used to the way film makers use film language and often enjoy the familiarity of it all. At the same time however we are looking to be surprised with new ways that film makers use the language.

An audience can want a comedy to be funny and a horror to scare them, but equally an audience can be looking for something completely new so that they can be shocked. This shows that there is a market for new ways of adapting genre and this is how genre evolves, shifting and changing over time as film makers experiment with new ideas while remaining within the same basic generic framework. Certain genres come in and out of fashion over time, having a resurgence when they are given a new modern twist. Example? ______________________________The generic study of film presents pure genre as the standard and other films in the same category as variations on this model. This is necessary for our viewing variety and pleasure when watching mainstream movies; after all how would an audience recognise unusual if they didnt have usual to compare it to?The paradox therefore regarding the genre approach to film study is that the films are the same but different each time.Repetition and difference

The idea that films can be grouped together and are the same but different relies on the concept of repetition and difference. In different terms genre is both dynamic and static.

Although we can define a various types of film by referring to common attributes if all the films in one category were the same then there would be only one film in each genre. This is obviously not true and we can enjoy many films in the same genre because when it comes down to detail the films are different.

Repetition within a genre can relate to plot, characters, narrative structure and certain cinematic codes, but equally the difference between films of the same genre can also be created through the unusual use of these things. Generic structures can therefore be seen in paradigmatic form, with each element interchangeable.

Example film: Alien. This is a science fiction film where the hero is sent to kill the alien (this is repetition- we have seen this before) but the hero is female (this is the difference). A basic common framework exists but components within that framework alter from film to film.

It is often through mise en scne that we really begin to recognise a films type. Aspects of mise en scne may typify a genre so acutely that they take on iconic status.

Iconography refers to the elements within a frame that are synonymous with the genre. Think of a films setting for instance, it is often the first iconic detail of mise en scne that helps us identify a genre. If the setting is a flying saucer we can hazard a guess that it is a science fiction film. Once again though, it relies on formula and expectation and stereotype. Setting is just one example that film makers can use in a different way in order to play with audience expectations. E.g. horrors, such as The Blair Witch Project, have made use of forest locations. However, the differences in one area will be balanced with familiarity in another, so that audiences do not lose their connection with the genre. Therefore the setting may be different, but other aspects of the mise en scne will stay the same and fit the audiences expectations of that genre. The audience can not always rely on iconography alone to indicate a films genre and other elements fuel expectation and indicate the generic formula. These include:

Title Styles

As the first thing we see the title styles can again aide our expectations. Titles are important as hey can often attract or repel an audience quite quickly. The colour and the shape of the letters alone can signify a lot.

In some cases films can have their tiles over the establishing shots, so in this case the viewer may pay more attention to the clues in the narrative than the titles. But in other films the narrative clues are withheld and the title sequence itself takes on mysterious qualities.

Music signifiers

When the titles offer little in terms of confirmation of your expectations we turn to the music that usually accompanies the opening of the film. Directors can subvert this by having no music at all or music with other sounds. Different types of music act as different aural signifiers and often just by listening to the soundtrack alone we can identify the genre of the film.

Audio/verbal signifiers

Certain genres have their own verbal speech pattern. In other words we expect the characters to speak in a certain way depending upon the type of film. The actual dialogue and the tone in which they are expressed are again indicators of genre. For example period costume dramas will often have a literary quality and gangster films will contain a lot of expletives or slang.In summary, iconography, titles, music and audio signifiers all help us to identify the genre and to sum up our expectations of it. This is why these key elements are used to great effect in film trailers, as it is often the identification of the genre that will tempt us into the cinema. An unusual use of these elements can have a similar effect.

Task: Watch the opening sequences to both films again. Note down what elements in the first few minutes signify the films genre to the audience.

The Omega Man

Title Styles

Music signifiersIconographyAudio/verbal signifiers

I Am Legend

Title Styles

Music signifiersIconographyAudio/verbal signifiers

How can we define the action genre?

Fill in the table below with what elements you think an action film has to have

Mise en scne





You will need to refer to sequences from the films in your exam. Note below key sequences from each film that place it within the action genre.

The Omega Man

I Am Legend

Do you think The Omega Man or I Am Legend have elements of any other genres in them? If so, which genres?





Despite being the same film the films do differ in their appearance (as well as the story, but well get onto that later). How do they differ in their appearance, and why?


Narrative- a story or description of a series of events The films content is often seen as the primary focus and audiences tend to view the stylistic or micro qualities as secondary to this. Thus the sequence of events, which is the narrative, keeps us engaged with the film. In film studies there is a distinction between story and plot.

Plot: refers only to the actual events on screen including any non-diegetic materials like titles or credits.

Story: refers to the actual events portrayed on screen plus those events which form part of the story, but are not on the screen. Events which do not appear on screen can be events which are implied or referred to and which we the audience need to know about to make sense of the film.

Narrative therefore can be a combination of both story and plot and is the term used to refer to the sequence of events. The sequence of events in narrative cinemas revolves around the concept of cause and effect.

There is a distinction between the two types of time in films

Screen duration- how long the film lastsTemporal duration- the period the narrative


Narrative patterns and narrative theory


Vladimir Propp published his Morphology of the Folk-Tale in 1928, he studied folk tales and legends from many diff