Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Genre: Drama Conventions

Drama Conventions
A drama is a film that deals a lot with human emotions. They are usually very serious, tense and portray realistic characters, of which the protagonist and/or others are usually in confliction with themselves and other people. The themes of which these films are based upon are just about anything, as long as it’s realistic/a real-life situation, no such themes that include aliens or monsters… generally nothing super-natural. Some of the more popular themes to depict are injustice, drug addiction, poverty, mental illness, the corruption of power and racial prejudice. They usually link to something topical, such as politics or poverty. But dramas don’t have to have such explosive dramatic themes, some have basic themes which are simply human emotions, films dealing with themes such as failed romances, loss, family issues, broken friendships and affairs of the heart, these are often classed as melodramas. All drama films are very tense, often the soundtrack/music playing an important part in the overall feel of the films, with mysterious intense scores to provoke emotions in the spectator.
In early Hollywood drama films, instead of blaming society as a whole for topical subjects taken on (as such as social problems in society), they would shift the blame of it all on an individual rather than the institution, as to protect the society as a whole, and usually the individual would be punished for his or her actions. Usually these kind of dramatic films are dealt with in a very frank and realistic manner, this is not always the case for these types of films.
There are many sub-genres of drama, as the genre itself is a very very broad genre, with a wide spectrum of different films with different ideas and approaches of cinematography, but are essentially still classed as drama. Here are some examples of the different sub-genres you will find in drama films.

A biopic (or biographical film) is a film which portrays the life of important historical person or group of the present or past era. Although biopics cross the genre boundaries, for example the film may focus on a Western outlaw, so thus will have more of a Western influence to it than drama, but is still considered a drama. Biopics were most popular in the 1930’s.

Historical Drama
Films that focus on dramatic events in history. Not to be confused with Biopics, where the films revolves around the person, whereas in historical dramas it’s more based on the real events that happened, such as WWII.

Period Drama
Period dramas, or costume dramas are dramas which focus on life in eras such as the 1700’s or 1800’s, for historical purposes, (very similar to biopics) romances or adventure films. Quite often based on books written in these eras. Very elaborate costumes, sets and props used to capture the feel of these time periods.

Dark Comedy
Although this genre has obvious comedy influences, it is still considered a sub-genre of drama. These films have serious, usually taboo themes, as such as rape, murder, war, insanity and terminal illnesses. The comedy element of these films usually provoke thought about the serious subject matter, but also used to shed light on these topics.

Very similar to dark comedies, apart from the subject matter focused on in the film is less tabooed. An equal amount of comedy and drama. In these films the protagonists pasts are more likely to have an effect on the film than their current actions, their past catches up with them.

Political Drama
Very topical films, based on the politics of the past or near present. Political dramas are usually made after it has been some time after the subject matter has passed in the news, as could be seen as bias or influential.

A drama in which the protagonist’s downfall is caused by a flaw in their character or by a major error in judgement. Often end well and end bad, or start bad and end bad. Very tense, sad and depressing.

A drama which focuses on the elements of romantic love between two protagonists. These films usually have happy endings, or at least bittersweet endings. Often tearjerkers and more popular with women. Can be linked to other genres, such as romantic comedies, or rom-coms, which still have the element of drama but not as strongly as just a romance.

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