Genre is Marketing; Focus is Storytelling

Sci-Fi confuses people because it used to mean a focus on scientifically-based plots, so Jurassic Park and Inception qualified, but Star Wars was a Space Opera. However now when people hear Sci-Fi, they immediately think of either any movie set in space or any movie involving robots, because spaceships and robots are the most common technology used in a Sci-Fi film.

It then became a revelation when Genre’s have been blended so heavily that I began to wonder: what is the point of a movie genre? If comedies are any movies that contain jokes, action movies are any movie that contains a fight scene, romance movies are any film that features a couple in love, then movies like Princess Bride and Marvel films could basically be considered the same thing; if not for the fact that one movie is based on a comic book. But it just proves how hard it is to classify movies like Princess Bride; one could claim “Fairy Tale” because it is set within a book that a grandfather reads to a son, but when Genre is constantly being re-defined, should we even box in a movie to one focus? If these genres prove anything, its that the best movies have a mix of everything, because most genres tend to either give a clear setting or a clear emotional focus. A comedy provides laughter, a tragedy provides tears, a romance provides love, a thriller provide suspense, a crime story provides mystery, and a horror provides fear.

Each genre is trying to tell audiences “if you focus on eg. romance, then this is the movie for you” but then genre becomes more of a marketing term than a storytelling skill, so movies like Toy Story or The Princess Bride, despite being completely different tone and setting, use multiple genres to give their story a maximal emotional effect. Toy Story uses Horror to create the fear that should be felt within Sids house; by having the carpet reference The Shining, or also using mystery and suspense when Woody is walking around with a flashlight as shadows move across the screen – and when he finally sees them, there is a long suspense as the face turns out to be a babys face that is missing an eye and has a metal crab body. They turn this around by having a hand-in-a-box grab Sid’s leg, horror-style, and Woody having his head completely rotate around when they attempt to get revenge. All this, plus plenty of jokes that kids would be too young to have experienced, like knowing who Picasso is or what Laser Envy is a reference to, even an adult joke “the word I’m searching for I can’t say because there are preschool toys here.” They even go so far as to have a punch-on early in the film, and a (sort-of) car chase near the climax, because to have a character go through only one single emotion or setting will quickly spoil the audience for whatever you’re trying to put across.

Blending genre is life; a mix of emotions or settings within a single focus. When asking “What Genre”, ask only “how would you sum up your main story in one word” – for Dark Knight, the main story is a superhero fights a supervillain, and so it is primarily considered that despite many claims it defies superhero films. Princess Bride would actually be a fairy tale because while it could be referred to as action due to Wesley being a pirate, or romance due to the film title referring to the princess he is rescuing, or a comedy purely based on the witty dialogue consistently throughout the movie, it is primarily a fairly tale because it is the story of all of these things being read by a grandfather to his grandson.

Genre provides the core focus for explaining your story, but skills in mixed genres provide good storytelling.


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