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Discuss some of the similarities and differences between Independence Day and War of the Worlds with particular reference to narrative and genre features.

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Introduction

Discuss some of the similarities and differences between Independence Day and War of the Worlds with particular reference to narrative and genre features. The War of the worlds by Steven Spielberg can be categorised as a hybrid genre, containing a mix of a sci-fi and a family drama. The audience establishes that it is a sci-fi with aspects of family drama right from the start of the film, as there seems to be two openings to the film. The first opening is a voice over by Morgan Freeman, using scientific words to describe how people (referred to as a swarm of ants - small and insignificant) were being watched by another intelligent group of people. The speech finishes with the use of paralanguage, a technique whereby his voice takes a more serious tone when discussing how others are going to take over the world. These words are combined with the imagery that appears, as a white light starts to increase, which could be described like an eye, which obviously portrays someone watching. The other opening to the film is used to establish the main character Ray Ferrier and his family. ...read more.

Middle

This represents the chaos that everyone is experiencing, and the fact that everyone is bewildered. From all of these different narratives occurring through the film Independence Day, the viewer knows we will eventually come to a conjunction with all these different storylines and this appears true when the audience arrives at July the 4th and the narrative from then on is single stranded. Narrative also requires a narrator, someone who tells the story from his or her point of view. In War of the Worlds, the entire film is from the point of view of Ray Ferrier and his family. This helps the viewer to relate to the characters and become more emotionally involved. This does not happen in Independence Day, as there are several main characters and all different storylines and therefore it becomes increasingly difficult for the audience to participate in the action of the film, and has to merely sit on the sidelines as an observer. The narrative of War of the Worlds also contains references to the 9/11 attacks. This is noticeable at the beginning of the film where the voice over is heard and suggests we are being watched by another intelligent group of people. ...read more.

Conclusion

Having looked at the similarities and differences of Independence Day by Roland Emmerich, and War of the Worlds by Steven Spielberg, it is clear that the way each film is portrayed, through the use of mise-on-scene, the music, the characters, and the way the films are structured, generates the type of genre and narrative each film can be identified as. War of the Worlds can be described as a hybrid genre, containing a mix of a sci-fi and a family drama, owing to the emotive elements and scenes of the film, whereas Independence Day could be categorised as a sci-fi/action film, owing to the usage of the strong, military music, the government, and the general alpha-male context. Although both of the films narratives are extremely identical, the structure of it is completely different. This is due to the fact War of the Worlds has a basic narrative structure, owing to the fact it is linear and single stranded, as the film has one storyline which commences as a low concept film and ends as a high concept film. This is contrasted to Independence Day, as this film contains a multi-stranded narrative up to the last day, which keeps the film fast paced, and highlights further the chaos and tension of America's society. Alexandra Harris ...read more.

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