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Question: Compare how genre and narrative are established in 2 crime films

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Introduction

Media coursework Question: Compare how genre and narrative are established in 2 crime films In this essay I will compare how genre and narrative are established in 2 crime films. The main iconography of this genre is fairly easy to identify; props such as guns, latex gloves, sirens, rain are used frequently in Hollywood crime films such as Se7en (1995). The conventions of this genre are also fairly easy to recognise: detectives with long trench coats, the killer being the least likely character, huge urban settings and signifiers like dead bodies have successfully been used in films like Training Day (2001) and Along Came a Spider (2001). The crime genre has been most successful in creating hybrid and sub-genres. For example, a film such as Lethal Weapon 4 (1998) is hybrid with action and has a romantic subplot. Bad Boys (1995) uses both action and comedy as hybrid elements with crime, as does Rush Hour (1998). Crime is a mainstream genre. However it appeals to both mainstream and independent producers. This is because genre can be dealt in different ways: it can be used to explore universal themes such as good vs evil, 'crime doesn't pay', etc. or it can deal with hard-hitting and controversial subjects for example Pulp Fiction (1994). Either way it is successful with the mainstream and niche audience. The box office hit of such films as Minority Report (2002) are clearly mainstream, produced by major studios, 20th Century Fox and Dream Works; and stars Tom Cruise, which suggests it has high production values. The film also incorporates themes of good vs. evil and right triumphing over wrong. Another explanation for the film's mainstream status is that it uses hybrid genres: action, sci-fi, thriller, and crime. Historically, Hollywood studios have always been interested in crime films. The first ever crime film was director D.W. Griffith's The Musketeers of Pig Alley (1912) ...read more.

Middle

This effectively emphasises the film's key generic elements: serious crimes and thriller. In the opening credits we saw lots of images and books by Lincoln Rhyme. The image is of Denzel Washington who we then assume as Lincoln Rhyme. The first scene is of a pan of New York City and Denzel Washington with a serious, determined face. Reflecting his face are the police car lights, which introduces the crime genre and establishes this is a tense situation. The diegetic sounds of police radios and lots of anxious chatter set the scene as being very serious and also help to establish the genre. He is wearing a helmet and a NYPD uniform, which signifies the genre and informs us of his role. A tracking shot, which highlights his importance in the film, is used. Whilst in the tunnel, a perspective shot is used to see what Rhyme sees, a dead body. Then a low bird's eye view shot is used to show a heavy object falling with Rhyme underneath it. In the tunnel we see dark lighting and water dripping down. This emphasises the mood of this scene and creates realism. Then after the object falls we cut to a close up of Rhyme's face and then a zoom out so we establish Rhyme is surrounded by hospital equipment. We then see a pan of what looks like an apartment with medical paraphernalia. We hear sounds of machines beeping and low, distant sounds of passing traffic outside. Then we meet Amelia Donaghy, played by Angelina Jolie, who works for the police as we see by the police costume. When we see her in the police costume we notice that the weather is quite dark, dismal and grey. In many crime films, weather is often used to represent the tense atmosphere. When she is at the murder scene, which at this point she doesn't know, we see an establishing shot of the weather and the setting. Rain and dark clouds connote the trouble to come. ...read more.

Conclusion

Narratives wise, they both portray the equilibrium first and then show the disturbance. Both films take the conventional approach to genre as they both have different signifiers and conventions to portray a crime film. However, there are significant differences between the films as Ocean's Eleven uses conventions of caper/heist sub-genre whereas The Bone Collector uses those of a detective sub-genre. Ocean's Eleven uses the conventional linear structure whereas The Bone Collector does not. Ocean's Eleven more obviously targets a mainstream audience but The Bone Collector could appeal to both mainstream and niche audiences. This is because gruesome and violent murders may appeal to niche audiences whereas mainstream audiences like crime and mystery. As the film employs mainstream stars it is clear that Ocean's Eleven was the more successful in introducing narrative and genre. By not using dramatic devices such as flashbacks it meant that the main character had to be introduced first in the film. By just being released from prison says a lot to the audience that he is a criminal but we are still on his side as his character is played by a well-known star. It had to be successful because of the handful of stars. Naturally people were to come and see this, as there are so many stars that the audience will like at least one to watch the film. In Ocean's Eleven's title sequence we learn that George Clooney is the main character as is Brad Pitt but we also learn that this is a crime film as it opens to a prison cell. The Bone Collector was more successful in making use of most obvious signifiers and conventions as it clearly conveys them: the crime scene; the police uniform; the murders and so much more. I personally enjoyed Ocean's Eleven because it humoured me and the variety of stars meant that they each had a quality to keep me interested in different ways. The Bone Collector was good but for me personally, I find the suspense daunting and I would rather not watch it! ...read more.

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