Genre in Modern Cinema

András Bálint Kovács

in Screening Modernism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print January 2008 | ISBN: 9780226451633
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226451664 | DOI:
Genre in Modern Cinema

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Narrative techniques frequently used in modern cinema became fashionable not as self-contained play with the form. They are the most appropriate tools for telling specific stories. Modern art cinema tells stories about the “individual” who has lost his or her contact with the surrounding world. Stories about the lonely, alienated, or suppressed individual are endless, but the forms in which these stories can be made intelligible are not. These forms are the essential genres of modernism. Modern films, just like modern narrative in general, are said to transgress the limits of narrative genres and conventions. In the works of early-period modern auteurs, the roots of traditional genres are easily discernible. Michelangelo Antonioni and Federico Fellini start out of Italian neorealist-style melodrama. This chapter describes the most frequent genres and plot patterns in modern films, and examines Jean-Paul Sartre's philosophy of nothingness and Antonioni's 1962 film Eclipse. It then discusses six elements or forms as most characteristic of modern genres: investigation, wandering, mental journey, closed-situation drama, reflexive genre parody, and the film essay.

Keywords: modern cinema; genres; forms; modernism; auteurs; melodrama; Michelangelo Antonioni; Eclipse; Jean-Paul Sartre; nothingness

Chapter.  15283 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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