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Genre: generic origins and relationships


Genre: generic origins and relationships A consideration of Tom Ryall s contribution (1978) What is genre criticism? Tom Ryall (1978) distinguishes genre criticism ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Genre: generic origins and relationships

Genre generic origins and relationships
  • A consideration of Tom Ryalls contribution (1978)

What is genre criticism?
  • Tom Ryall (1978) distinguishes genre criticism
    from the two approaches dominant at the time of
    its development auteurism, and an earlier
    tradition which saw films as providing social
    documents. He sees as a central concern of genre
    criticism the relationship between the art
    product, its source and its audience. Both auteur
    and 'social document' approaches use a linear
    model of this relationship, privileging artist or
    social reality as the originating source of the
    art product, which, representing their
    expression, is then consumed by its audience. In
    contrast, Ryall suggests, the model offered by
    genre criticism is triangular, with art product,
    artist and audience as three equally constituting
    moments in the production of the text -A view
    which posits a dynamic and mutually determining
    relationship between them. The basis of this
    equality lies in the way the conventions of genre
    operate. They provide a framework of structuring
    rules, in the shape of patterns/forms/
    styles/structures, which act as a form of
    supervision' over the work of production of
    film-makers and the work of reading by an
    audience. As a critical enterprise genre
    analysis, which looks for repetitions and
    variations between films rather than originality
    or individuality, was developed as a more
    appropriate tool for understanding popular cinema
    than authorship theories. Following the
    structuralist intervention and revival of Marxist
    aesthetics, genre analysis enables film criticism
    to take account of conditions of production and
    consumption of films and their relationship to
    ideology. Thus Ryall places his original triangle
    - film/artist/audience - in two concentric
    circles, the first representing the studio, or
    particular production institution - the film's
    immediate industrial context - and the second
    representing the social formation - here American
    society, western capitalism - of which the film
    industry and cinematic signification are a part.
    Whereas the triangular model displaces the notion
    of a single originating source, the concentric
    circles displace an earlier Marxist linear model
    used to account for historical and social
    determination - in which the base is seen as
    unproblematically reflected in the
    superstructure. In this reconceptualisation art
    and society are not opposed to each other as two
    abstract and discrete entities rather art is
    understood as one of the social practices in
    which society exists. Ryall's model, then,
    attempts to grasp the range of determinants -
    historical, economic, social, cinematic,
    aesthetic, ideological - involved in the
    production of meaning in the cinema, without
    foreclosing on the question of which element
    dominates in any given instance.
  • Pam Cook, The Cinema Book. 1999, BFI

Auteur Theory
  • Film-maker as auteur or author
  • Director
  • E.g. John Ford Stagecoach
  • Linear model

Marxist/structuralist approach
  • Social reality/industrial production conditions
    produce a film
  • Social Reality
  • E.g. McCarthyism High Noon
  • Linear model

Ryalls Triangle
  • Ryall suggested that art product (film), artist
    (film-maker) and audience all relate to each
  • dynamic and mutually determining

Concentric Circles
  • But to take into account both the context of
  • And the social reality of societys ideology
  • Ryall placed this triangle within two concentric
    circles to try and establish the dynamic

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So what?
  • How does High Noon, for example, fit into this
  • How does it help us to understand the dynamics of
    production and reception?
  • How does it suggest a different
    (better/worse/more complete?) framework for
    looking at genre as a concept?

Lets apply the theory
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  • Merl Kimmel Philadelphia
  • Date 19 September 2004 Summary High Noon
  • High Noon is for me one of the two finest
    Westerns ever made (the other is Shane). It is an
    elemental commentary on the best and worst of
    America, the best and worst of mankind. It is
    Greek tragedy and Shakespeare brought to the Old
    West in a grandly simple form. Gary Cooper is
    superb and the supporting cast is outstanding as
    well (although I wish Grace Kelly would have
    spoken without the artificial sounding
    school-girl accent, something which marred so
    many of her otherwise fine performances). I do
    not read into the film a commentary on events of
    the 1950s, specifically the ongoing
    investigations by Congress of left-wing
    activities. High Noon transcends such specifics
    as this. I know John Wayne called the film
    un-American but I must disagree. I have great
    respect for the Duke but think he got this one
    wrong. Weak, timid people are everywhere and the
    strong are often few and far between. Goodness
    and right often prevail because a small minority
    insure that they do. All benefit from the courage
    of the lonely hero whether they realize it or
    not. High Noon is a testimony to this truth.

Gratuitous High Noon Posters