Today: July 16, 2024

Genre Defining

Let’s face it, for years films have been filed under labels known as genres.  It’s all to do with the content and style of a film that allows us to quickly sum up it in one fell swoop.  So here at Filmjuice we thought we’d try and boil all those messy genres into easy to digest bites.  But, remember, films these days are rarely only one genre. With this in mind FilmJuice Editor Alex Moss tried to find films that don’t cross genres too much.

For this you need at least one of the following: Car chases, foot chases, horse chases, gun-fights, fist-fights, kung-fu fights….okay essentially some kind of chase or fight.  But don’t rule out falls and anything which explodes.  Indeed without action Michael Bay would cease to exist.  Oh, hang on.  Of course Action films normally crossover with the Thriller genre.  After all what is action if not thrilling?  We’re back to Michael Bay again.  They should preferably include guns, lots of guns.
Defining Action Movies:  Speed, The Rock, Die Hard, True Lies, Rambo: First Blood, The Transporter, Point Break, Face/Off, Hard Boiled, Lethal Weapon (Below), Ronin, Top Gun,
Actors Who Action: Bruce Willis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Angelina Jolie, Keanu Reeves, Mel Gibson, Jean Claude Van Damme (basically the cast of The Expendables 2).
Directors Who Action: Tony Scott, Michael Bay, John Woo, John McTiernan, Richard Donner, James Cameron, Kathryn Bigelow.


This is all about globetrotting and taking an audience into the unknown.  Of course that’s not to say it can’t be into a galaxy far far away but that falls more into Sci-fi.  More on that later.  Typically Adventure films go hand in hand with action.  There should be some kind of swashbuckling but they should also be fun, with the peril being minimal and aimed at a broader, rather than adult, audience.  If in doubt, any Indiana Jones film is quintessential Adventure fodder.
Defining Adventure Movies: The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (Main Picture), The Goonies (Below), Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl, Cast Away, The Last Of The Mohicans, Romancing The Stone, Sherlock Holmes, The Poseidon Adventure, Robin Hood; Prince Of Thieves, The Mummy.
Actors Who Adventure: Harrison Ford, Michael Douglas, Russell Crowe, Humphrey Bogart, Viggo Mortensen.
Directors Who Adventure: Steven Spielberg, Peter Jackson, Ridley Scott, Robert Zemeckis, David Lean.


Anything drawn, be it by hand or by computer wizardry can be considered animation.  But these days the techniques have evolved to include motion-capture films such as The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn.  For years Disney ruled the roost of animation and they continue, in some regards, thanks to their partnership with animation gods Pixar.  If in doubt, the characters should have cartoonish features, some form of princess (be her mermaid, trapped in a castle or Barbie doll) and will probably be aimed primarily at a younger audience. Although best not show the kids certain films like South Park The Movie or Waltz With Bashir.  Of course never forget the power of stop-motion which, despite its time consuming methods, still produces some of the best animated films on offer.  Furthermore, all animation films have to fall into another film genre, animation is simply the technique with which the story is told.
Defining Animation Movies: Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs (Below), Akira, Bambi, Spirited Away, Toy Story, Fantasia, The Lion King, Wall-E, Wallace And Gromit: Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, The Nightmare Before Christmas.
Directors Who Animate:  John Lasseter, Hayao Miyazaki, Wolfgang Reitherman, Nick Park, John Lounsbery.


These films are about a person’s life.  Normally from beginning, or at least the important beginning, till their death or ultimate success.  They can also be about a particularly relevant point in a historical figures life.  Crucially the film will be about one, at times two, key figures and the film’s focus will be firmly on them rather than the events.  This differentiates them from the Historical genre.  The clue is almost invariably in the title as it tends to be the person’s name.  Like Ray or Gandhi.
Defining Biopics: Patton, Amadeus, Gandhi, Elizabeth, Milk, The Elephant Man, Raging Bull (Below), Lawrence Of Arabia.
Directors Who Biopic: David Lean, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, Richard Attenborough,
Actors Who Biopic:  Michael Sheen, Russell Crowe, Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter O’Toole, Meryl Streep.


These are films that have come to define cinema.  Be it for winning multiple awards of simply becoming a film that is revered through the ages.  A film cannot be a Classic upon release, it must percolate through the ages in order to gain a reputation.  Classics become synonymous with their respective genre, so Casablanca is one of the quintessential romances. There is no greater accolade in film than to be called a Classic and therefore to be classed in this genre is to have achieved greatness.
Defining Classics: Citizen Kane, Casablanca, Lawrence Of Arabia, The Godfather, The Wizard Of Oz, Psycho, Jaws, 2001; A Space Odyssey (Below), Blade Runner, Chinatown.
Actors Who Classic: Humphrey Bogart, Peter O’Toole, Jimmy Stewart, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Fred Astaire.
Directors Who Classic: Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, John Ford, John Huston, David Lean, Akira Kurosawa, D. W. Griffith, Stanley Kubrick, Charlie Chaplin.


As Singing In The Rain likes to inform us; the point of any comedy is to “Make ‘Em Laugh”.  If a comedy fails to so much as bring at least one laugh and a lot of smiles then it has failed.  If, as the great ones do, they leave you hurting with laughter and grinning like an idiot there’s no beating them.  Again comedies are rarely stand-alone genres.  They are normally combined with another genre, these days the most obvious one being the Romantic-Comedy, or Rom-com.  Apparently love is amusing, except when it hurts.
Defining Comedies: Monty Python’s Life Of Brian, This Is Spinal Tap, Annie Hall, Some Like It Hot, Dr. Strangelove, A Shot In The Dark, Blazing Saddles, Airplane! (Below)
Actors Who Comedy: John Cleese, Steve Martin, Gene Wilder, Leslie Nielsen, Bill Murray, Julia Roberts, Marilyn Monroe, Kristen Wiig, Goldie Hawn, Kathleen Turner.
Directors Who Comedy: Woody Allen, Charlie Chaplin, Terry Gilliam, John Hughes, Rob Reiner, Billie Wilder, Blake Edwards, Nora Ephron.


Crime films traditionally deal with the sinister world of thieves, murders and in particular, gangsters.  Of course many crime films can’t have the criminals without telling the story of the cops trying to track them down.  So while gangster films tend to look mainly at just the seedy world they inhabit, see Goodfellas as a prime example, films like Heat split the attention firmly between the cat, being the cop, and the mouse, the robber trying to steal the proverbial cheese.  Of course most Crime films are linked to thrillers or mysteries.  Due to their macho nature crime films predominantly focus on male protagonists, although Film Noir, a separate genre which is normally linked to Crime, is nothing without a femme fatale.
Defining Crimes: Heat, Se7en, The Untouchables, The French Connection, Goodfellas (Below), City Of God, The Godfather, Pulp Fiction, The Sting, Bonnie & Clyde, The Dark Knight, Out Of Sight, Scarface.
Actors Who Like Crime: Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci, Paul Newman, Faye Dunaway, Denzel Washington, Grace Kelly, George Clooney, Christian Bale.
Directors Who Make Criminals: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Michael Mann, Brian De Palma, Alfred Hitchcock, Steven Soderbergh, Christopher Nolan, Francis Ford Coppola, Quentin Tarantino.


Documentary, as a genre, is something of a contradiction.  Its main purpose is to inform by documenting an event, person, or topic.  But in doing so almost all documentaries end up forming a narrative.  What is crucial to a documentary is it is non-fictional.  The events, whether real or re-enacted, on screen are always taken from truth.  Documentary makers like Michael Moore often make films to try and instill a specific opinion or set of ideals with the aim of offering the audience a different side to a well known debate.
Defining Documentaries: Triumph Of The Will, The Thin Blue Line, Senna (Below), Nanook Of The North, Bowling For Columbine, Grizzly Man, Gimme Shelter, Hoop Dreams.
Directors Who Document: Michael Moore, Werner Herzog, Martin Scorsese, Errol Morris.


Dramas tend to be serious films, driven by a strong plot or strong characters.  It’s rare for them to contain much in the way of special effects or big set pieces.  The characters tend to be realistic and relatable to the audience.  However, Drama is also probably the most wide of genres and as such will often cross over into various others.  So Family, Crime, Historical, Romance and countless other genres can all be seen as Dramas up to a point.  These days, more than ever, the sub-genre Dramedy has come to be used, meshing a drama with comedic moments.
Defining Dramas: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, The Shawshank Redemption (Below), 12 Angry Men, To Kill A Mockingbird, American Beauty, Citizen Kane, Raging Bull, Stand By Me, There Will Be Blood, All The Presidents Men.
Actors In Dramas: Jack Nicholson, Marlon Brando, Daniel Day Lewis, Meryl Streep, Bette Davis, Tom Hanks, Sidney Poitier, Denzel Washington, Katharine Hepburn, Diane Keaton.
Directors Of Drama: Paul Thomas Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, Milos Forman, Sidney Lumet.


This one tends to be a bit naughty so is for a more mature viewer.  Calm down, it’s not porn, well not in the obvious sense anyway.  Instead it is a genre that deals primarily in sex and the repercussions or indeed joys of it.  Of course this being sex it often comes with an inherent danger. So, sleep with the wrong person in an Erotic film and you’re likely to wind up either dead or in deep water with the law.  Other Erotic films focus on infidelity and the fall-out from an affair.  Just because a film contains a sex scene does not immediately make it an erotic film, there needs to be a certain level of titillation about the way said scene is shot.  Shame for example, while about a sex addict, is very rarely aiming to arouse the viewer but rather unsettle them.
Defining Erotic Films: Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction, Wild Things, Eyes Wide Shut, Dressed To Kill, 9 ½ Weeks, Last Tango In Paris, Body Heat, The Postman Always Rings Twice, The Piano.
Directors Who Do Erotic: Adrian Lyne, Paul Verhoeven, Jane Campion, Peter Greenaway, Bernardo Bertolucci.
Actors Who Like To Be Erotic: Sharon Stone, Michael Douglas, Mickey Rourke (before he took up boxing), Kim Basinger, Monica Bellucci, Richard Gere, Linda Fiorentino.


These are films aimed at entertaining a wide variety of age groups.  The idea being that a family could sit down to watch it together and both adults and children alike would find something enjoyable to take from the experience.  With this in mind studios such as Pixar have been able to turn a very tidy profit by allowing audiences of all ages to find something universal to enjoy in a film.  Family films are often animation but also combine aspects of the adventure, fantasy, musical and comedy genres.
Defining Family Films: Who Framed Roger Rabbit? The Goonies, E.T. The Extraterrestrial, Home Alone, Jurassic Park, Babe, Mary Poppins, The Princess Bride, The Wizard Of Oz (Below), It’s A Wonderful Life, Bringing Up Baby.
Directors Of Family Films: Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemekis, Chris Columbus, Richard Donner, Frank Capra, Peter Jackson.
Actors of Family Films: Tom Hanks, Julie Andrews, Johnny Depp, Tim Allen.


This one’s all about taking the audience to another world, a fantastic world outside the normal realm of possibility.  In modern cinema the fantasy genre has increasingly begun to include the sub-genre of Superheroes.  After all, what is having super powers if not a fantasy?  Warning, here there be monsters.
Defining Fantasy Films: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy (Below), Lady Hawk, Krull, Superman, X-Men, Legend, Time Bandits, Harry Potter, Pan’s Labyrinth, Hellboy.
Directors Who Fantasise: Peter Jackson, Guillermo Del Toro, Terry Gilliam, Sam Raimi, Bryan Singer, Tim Burton, Jim Henson.
Actors Who Fantasise:  Daniel Radcliffe, Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett, Emma Watson, Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman, Tilda Swinton.


Film Noir
Bit of a contentious one this as the Film Noir debate will rage on.  Is it a genre or a style?  With this in mind you need a number of things to classify yourself as a Film Noir.  On the style front you need moody, chiaroscuro lighting, with just a hint of foreboding doom prevailing over the narrative.  Of course to go the whole hog you should have a hardboiled flavour, a femme fatale and ideally a fall-guy protagonist.  Throw in a few venetian blinds, smoke filled alleyways, a seedy city and a healthy dose of alienation and you’re all set.  Ideally Film Noirs will be shot in black and white but the modern equivalent is conveniently referred to as Neo-Noir.
Defining Film Noirs: Sunset Boulevard, The Big Sleep (Below), Double Indemnity, Touch Of Evil, Chinatown, LA Confidential, The Last Seduction, Drive, The Third Man, M, The Maltese Falcon, Mulholland Drive.
Directors Who Bring The Film Noir: Fritz Lang, Billy Wilder, John Huston, Orson Welles, John Dahl, Nicholas Ray, David Lynch.
Actors Who Lurk In Film Noirs: Humphrey Bogart, Orson Welles, Edward G Robson, Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Crawford, Jessica Rabbit, Lauren Bacall, Robert Mitchum.


The key here is to include some kind of same sex relationship or issue.  So it can be a coming out story or a gay romance.  Either way you’ve got to have some guy on guy or girl on girl love happening.  It’s rare, if ever, to have a film fall only into the Gay genre.  More often than not it must be linked to the Romance, Drama or in the case of Brokeback Mountain, Western genres.
Defining Gay Films: My Beautiful Launderette, Monster, Boys Don’t Cry, Milk, Bound, Brokeback Mountain (Below), A Single Man, Heavenly Creatures, My Own Private Idaho, My Summer Of Love.
Directors of Gay Films: Gus Van Sant, Stephen Frears, Pedro Almodovar, Ang Lee, Gregg Araki,
Actors Who Go Gay: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hanks, Sean Penn, Ian McKellen, Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Hilary Swank, Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Emily Blunt.


These should be based on or inspired by historical events.  More often than not the film will try and tell an accurate version of the events but much of the time, as in the case of Braveheart, historical events can be heightened (read; invented) for dramatic purposes.  Crucially the characters are based on those who are written in history.  There is often, but not necessarily, an epic quality to the events, lavish production design and the potential of a cast of thousands.
Defining Historical Films: Schindler’s List, Apollo 13, The King’s Speech, All Quiet On The Western Front, The Battle Of Algiers, Lawrence Of Arabia (Below), Spartacus, Birth Of A Nation, The Longest Day.
Directors Who Dabble In History: David Lean, Clint Eastwood, Steven Spielberg, DW Griffith, Ron Howard, Cecil B DeMille, Robert Redford, Oliver Stone.
Actors who are part of History: Charlton Heston, Leonardo DiCaprio, Peter O’Toole, Michael Sheen, Cate Blanchett, Elizabeth Taylor, Lillian Gish.


The main, often sole, aim of the horror genre is to scare the audience and instill a sense of dread and fear. The Horror genre can often combine with other genres like Thrillers, Sci-fi and Mystery.  There are numerous sub-genres of the horror genre; Slasher, Supernatural, Gore, Monster, Body etc. While they may differ in the source of the scares they all share the hope that you’re going to jump, you’re going to squirm and more than anything you’re going to scream whilst hiding behind your seat.
Defining Horror Movies:  Nosferatu, Halloween, The Exorcist, The Shinning (Below), Psycho, Alien, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Night Of The Living Dead, The Thing, Scream, Frankenstein, Dracula.
Directors Create Horror: John Carpenter, Wes Craven, Alfred Hitchcock, David Cronenberg, Dario Argento, George Romero, Tobe Hooper, Mario Bava, James Whale.
Actors Who Horror:  Boris Karloff, Jamie Lee Curtis, Sigourney Weaver, Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Bela Lugosi, Janet Leigh, Vincent Price, Robert Englund.


Lots of singing and dancing, that’s the clue to a Musical.  The songs can either be interspersed throughout the dialogue or indeed the entire narrative can be sung.  The style of music can vary through the genre and indeed an individual film.  More often than not you’ll see characters bursting into song and singing their thoughts and emotions.  If you’re not toe tapping, laughing or moved by the end of a Musical then the record’s broken.
Defining Musicals: Singin’ In The Rain (Below), West Side Story, Cabaret, A Star Is Born, Top Hat, On The Town, Grease, Moulin Rouge, Mary Poppins, The Sound Of Music, Les Miserables.
Directors Who Conduct Musicals: Gene Kelly, Stanley Donen, Busby Berkeley, Robert Wise, Rob Marshall.
Actors Who Get Musical: Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Ginger Rogers, Julie Andrews, Barbara Streisand, John Travolta.


Mysteries take the audience on a journey of discovery.  They often follow a protagonist, normally a detective, journalist or someone similar, trying to unravel a crime of some sorts.  The audience is only given vital pieces of the puzzle as and when the hero unearths them.  So a whodunit is a typical form of mystery but sub-genres such as the Supernatural Thriller involves a ghostly element with the mystery being what is causing it or why a certain ghost is haunting a particular location or person.  The main purpose of a Mystery is to keep the audience guessing right up until the final revelation come the climax.
Defining Mystery Films: Se7en (Below), Psycho, The Usual Suspects, Rear Window, Memento, The Maltese Falcon, Vertigo, Chinatown, The Conversation, What Lies Beneath.
Directors Who Create Mysteries: Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Nolan, M. Night Shyamalan, David Fincher, Brian De Palma, David Mamet, Oliver Stone, John Huston, Roman Polanski, Billy Wilder.
Actors Who Like A Good Mystery: James Stewart, Kevin Spacey, Humphrey Bogart, Faye Dunaway, Grace Kelly, Harrison Ford, Gene Hackman.


These are all about affairs of the heart.  They want you to fall for the lead characters while they fall for each other.  Traditionally they go; boy meets girl, they fall in love, over come a few hurdles and live happily ever after.  But, and it’s a big but, they can work the other way.  In the sense they explore a relationship which doesn’t end happily ever after or sometimes start off happy and end sad.  Often Romances are unfairly labeled as ‘Chick-Flicks’ but to assume all romances are aimed at a solely female audience is naïve.  Try telling Quentin Tarantino and Tony Scott that True Romance is a Romance just for girls or Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive is gender specific. Either way Romances want to make you yearn, feel and fall in love.
Defining Romances: Casablanca, Titanic (Below), Gone With The Wind, Ghost, Love Story, Brief Encounter, Dirty Dancing, True Romance, When Harry Met Sally, Drive, The Graduate.
Directors Who Romance: Woody Allen, Mike Nichols, Michael Curtiz, Anthony Minghella, Nora Ephron, Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger, Cameron Crowe, Billy Wilder, Nancy Meyers.
Actors Who Romance: Ryan Gosling, Kate Winslet, Meg Ryan, Woody Allen, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart, Gene Kelly, Rita Hayworth, Jean Arthur, Hugh Grant.


Science Fiction films are all about pushing the realms of possibility.  Taking us to far off planets to meet alien races.  There are varying forms of Sci-fi.  From the space-opera of Star Wars to the more plausible speculation of modern science in films such as Never Let Me Go.  More often than not the sci-fi genre is combined with another.  Be it fantasy, adventure, drama or horror.  Sci-fi is a genre that, whilst presenting the story set in the future, often inspires the present.  Watch Sci-fi films made 20 years ago and you will see technology that is readily available now.  Crucially though Sci-fi does not have to be set in the future or space.  Jurassic Park for example has strong Sci-fi elements in the speculation of the technology used to cloned dinosaurs.  It’s based on theory that could conceivably work.  Furthermore many Sci-Fi films comment on a specific issue in contemporary society by heightening it.  So the aliens being segregated in District 9 is clearly a comment on Apartheid in South Africa. Sci-fi films should amaze, inspire and take you on a journey of discovery.
Defining Sci-fis: Blade Runner (Below), Star Wars, 2001; A Space Odyssey, Alien, Metropolis, The Terminator, Solaris, Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Star Trek, Back To The Future.
Directors Who Sci-fi: Steven Spielberg, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, George Lucas, Andrei Tarkovsky, Stanley Kubrick, David Cronenberg, Roland Emmerich, The Wachowskis, Paul Verhoeven.
Actors Who Sci-fi: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sigourney Weaver, Harrison Ford, Hugh Jackman, Will Smith, Kurt Russell, Jeff Goldblum, Keanu Reeves, Linda Hamilton.


Silent films were long considered a thing of the past.  Once sound came into film, with The Jazz Singer in 1927, the Silent genre began to rapidly decline.  Silent films are just that, silent.  Well to an extent.  There is no synch dialogue to speak of but most Silent films have music to accompany them.  As such the actors often communicate emotion and action with grand gestures.  The Silent genre honed the skills and made stars of such cinematic luminaries as Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton.  Recently the genre seems to have been re-born with the Oscar winning film The Artist.
Defining Silent Films: Un Chien Andalou, The Birth Of A Nation, The Cabinet Of Doctor Caligari, Nosferatu, The Gold Rush, The General (Below), The Battleship Potemkin, Metropolis, City Lights, Broken Blossoms, The Artist.
Directors Who Like Silence: D.W. Griffith, Charlie Chaplin, Cecil B. DeMille, Erich von Stroheim, Fritz Lang, Sergei M. Eisenstein, F.W. Murnau.
Actors Who Remain Silent: Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, Lillian Gish, Harold Lloyd, Gloria Swanson, Jean Harlow, Clara Bow, Rudolph Valentino.


Sports is technically more of a sub-genre.  A sports film will always be linked to a drama, thriller, action movie etc.  Crucially they will take place in or around the world of a sport, be it boxing, football, golf, baseball the list goes on.  Most Sports movies play up to, or started the trend, of certain clichés.  So there will be a slow motion shot of the victor, there will be a montage of the hero in training and more often than not the hero will win, against all odds, at the final bell or whistle.
Defining Sports Movie: Rocky, Brian’s Song, The Natural, Bull Durham (Below), Any Given Sunday, Slap Shot, Chariots Of Fire, The Hustler, Jerry Maguire, The Champ.
Sporty Directors: Ron Shelton, Michael Ritchie, Robert Rossen, John G. Avildsen, Martin Scorsese, Norman Jewison, John Huston.
Sporty Actors: Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Kevin Costner, Paul Newman, Denzel Washington, Dennis Quaid, Tom Cruise.


Thrillers are films designed to fill the audience with anticipation and excitement.  They’re normally linked with another genre, crime and action being two prominent examples.  The point of the Thriller is to plant questions in the audiences mind, get them to try and second guess what will happen next only to normally offer up a twist ending which, in most cases, few could have predicted.  While Thrillers are often laden with action, or in the case of a supernatural thriller, ghosts, they can easily be character based.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and countless Thrillers in the ‘70s like Marathon Man, work on the premise of drip feeding the viewer information and watching how the main character deals with it.  A good Thriller can cause as much suspense through men talking in a room as a big budget set piece.  In the world of Thrillers though there is only one name that matters, The Master Of Suspense; Mr. Alfred Hitchcock.
Defining Thrillers: Dial M For Murder, Rear Window, The Sixth Sense, The Silence Of The Lambs, The Prestige, Heat, The Conversation, Se7en, Memento, The Manchurian Candidate, The French Connection, Chinatown, North By Northwest (Below).
Directors Who Thrill: Alfred Hitchcock, Christopher Nolan, M. Night Shyamalan, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, Brian De Palma, Roman Polanski, William Friedkin, David Mamet, David Lynch.
Thrilling Actors: Grace Kelly, Tom Cruise, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Al Pacino, Gene Hackman, Sean Connery, Jodie Foster, Julianne Moore, Sharon Stone.


War films look at all aspects of war, from the horrors to the consequences of the atrocities.  The main bulk of the film will center around a conflict and the impact it has on those who are involved in it.  Most war films tend to be highly anti-war but there are various ways of portraying this.  From Apocalypse Now’s hellish vision of the Vietnam War to Starship Trooper’s satirical look at a future war and the tactics used by governments to recruit young people as essentially cannon fodder.  Furthermore, films such as Schindler’s List look at specific events during a war and tell a story focused on those stories.  War films can also use a specific conflict as a background to a story, for example Casablanca is classed as a war movie as the backdrop of World War II plays a key role in the film’s narrative.
Defining War Movies: Saving Private Ryan (Below), Platoon, Apocalypse Now, The Hurt Locker, The Great Escape, The Battle Of Algiers, The Thin Red Line, The Longest Day, The Damn Busters, Downfall.
War Directors: Oliver Stone, Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick, David Lean, Clint Eastwood, Ridley Scott, Edward Zwick, Wolfgang Petersen, John Sturges, Kathryn Bigelow.
War Actors: George C. Scott, Kirk Douglas, John Wayne, Lee Marvin, Michael Caine, David Niven, William Holden, Montgomery Clift, Donna Reed, Anthony Quinn.


Westerns are the quintessential American genre.  They are one of the most easily recognisable of genres taking place in the realm of the ever-expanding American frontier.  A Western should have at least a few of the following; guns, horses, saloons, whores and at least one cowboy or Indian.  Of course while the more classic interpretation of the genre is still seen on screen, more and more Westerns these days take on the form of other genres, so Joss Whedon’s Serenity can be seen as a Western set in space.
Defining Westerns: Once Upon A Time In The West, The Wild Bunch (Below), Rio Bravo, The Magnificent Seven, Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, The Searchers, Shane, High Noon, Unforgiven, The Good The Bad And The Ugly.
Western Directors: Clint Eastwood, John Ford, Sam Peckinpah, Sergio Leone, John Ford, Howard Hawks, Delmer Daves,
Western Actors: John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper, Charles Bronson, Eli Wallach, Yul Brynner, William Holden, Lee Van Cleef, Kevin Costner.


Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email:

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