¿Te van más las comedias, los thrillers o eres más de llorar con dramones? ¡Aprende más vocabulario sobre pelis en nuestra nueva entrada en inglés!
It’s May and since 1946 this is the month when the prestigious Cannes film festival has been held. To commemorate the event, this month’s Spread the Word is dedicated to film and the language used to describe different genres.
We’re going to begin with the biopic, a combination of the abbreviations of biographical and picture. Often an area where top actors can show off their skills; just think about such renowned examples as Ghandi, The Elephant Man and Amadeus, and also more modern movies such as The Social Network and 12 Years a Slave.
Our second category is the black comedy, which is defined as a work that displays a comic style that makes light of subject matter that is generally considered very serious or taboo. There are many great films in this vein, notable examples being Fargo, Pulp Fiction or Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic Dr. Stangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.
A type of comedy much less likely to offend is the romantic comedy, also affectionately known as the romcom. Much loved examples of this genre include When Harry Met Sally and Four Weddings and a Funeral, and here you can see some more choice examples.
Next we have a niche genre that has many fans: the coming-of-age film, one that focuses on the growth of a main character and characters from youth to adulthood. Famous examples are Stand by Me and the Breakfast Club. A more recent example is Boyhood, which kind of reinvented the genre by actually filming its protagonists over an eleven-year period!
You can imagine that such storylines can be quite emotional and there is other terminology used to describe the films that literally want to make us cry: the tear-jerker or the weepy. Who can stay unmoved watching Ghost or Terms of Endearment? And if you’d like to cry some more, check this out.
Moving on to a personal favourite: the disaster movie. This genre’s popularity hit its peak in the 1970s, when Hollywood studios invested heavily in special effects and all-star casts to bring us stories of people attempting to deal with the life-threatening situations caused by an array of both natural and man-made disasters. The result: The Poseidon Adventure, The Towering Inferno and Earthquake, among others.
Crime is staple subject material for cinema and here we can find more genres and sub-genres. Film noir, a style of film marked by a mood of pessimism, fatalism, and menace, is often centred around crime. The term was originally applied (by a group of French critics) to American thriller or detective films made in the 40s and 50s, such as the Maltese Falcon and the Big Sleep, both starring film icon, Humphrey Bogart. We can also identify gangster films as a genre (Goodfellas, The Godfather, Casino etc.) and then there’s the heist film, which deals with a theft or robbery (Ocean’s Eleven, the Sting, Heat etc.).
Our final genre (and we’ve left out a lot: documentary, animation, science fiction, musical and western, to name just a few more) is the road movie, where the main character or characters almost always experience journeys both physical and of self-discovery. Stand-out examples are Easy Rider, Thelma and Louise and the Mad Max series – the latter also covering the dystopian action film (sub)-genre! There’s more information here.