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Narrative in 'It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

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Narrative and Genre in It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is an American motion picture directed by Stanley Kramer about the madcap pursuit of $350,000 of stolen cash by a diverse and colourful group of strangers. Even before its release in 1963 it was well established as comedy caper, with a huge ensemble cast of some of the era's finest comedians and comic actors. Due to the changes made in cinema over the last four decades a modern day audience may not understand many of the verbal-jokes, and yet it is obvious through many of the visual-gags that this film played on many comedic techniques, as well as influencing other movies to this day, such a Rat Race, and most likely any modern day caper one can think of. There are three ways to categorize film genres; setting, mood, and format. The film's location is defined as the setting; the emotional charge carried throughout the film is known as its mood; the film may also have been shot using particular equipment or presented in a specific manner, or format. However, there is much controversy as to whether film genre identifies merely the general overtone of the film or defines the films style. Some have argued that genre needs to be distinguished from film style. ...read more.


This form of outlandish and slightly eccentric comedy was common in the 1960's, and was copied relentlessly with movies such as Help! This queer manner of presenting a movie proved popular with audiences, as it lent itself to heightening the humour present in the more conventional gags of 60's slapstick comedy. Contradictions are frequently used throughout this film, both verbal and visual, and are integral to the overall narrative of the piece, as they reflect the madness the title is referring to, as well as adding to the absurd and illogical atmosphere. Lines such as 'I am a liar' and 'The only thing you are sure of is that nothing is sure' are frequently used in this movie, marking the instances where deception and dishonesty occur. This adds to the comedy on numerous levels, as no character within the movies immediately catches on to the betrayal at hand when such a contradictory line is said, despite it being made painfully obvious the audience. This form of humour, where a character misses or misunderstands a situation, and ends up in some form of hilarious predicament is a staple mark of slapstick comedy caper movies, going hand in hand with the humour associated with a characters ignorance. ...read more.


It can be easily argued that this is an example of satire, as the techniques used seem to be highly exaggerated; with the slow motion descent of the car being incredibly lengthy, and changing shot angle and perspective no less than 15 times. Satire is something common in all forms of comedy, and generates response in a movie as it allows a viewer to relate what they've just seen to the original format; these mental comparisons expand the sense of surrealism already present in the movie, and show how important that sense of strangeness is vital to the movie. Perhaps this movies most obvious comic device is the use of visual metaphors; when the man in the black car is dying; with his last breath he quite literally kicks the bucket. This technique is used over and over in the film, using physical slapstick comedy to provide an unspoken narrative which is easily understood and greatly enjoyed by the audience. Overall, I believe this movie uses its style to effortlessly convey its meaning and narrative. However, I believe it would be unfair to say that this movie used generic genre conventions, as there were none at the time of its creation. If anything, this movie started certain generic genre traits, and influences many films even to this day. ...read more.

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