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Genres in film postmodernism

In the theory of film, genre began playing a more significant role at the end of 1960s, mostly under the influence of modernist tendencies, but also due to some social trends and changes outside the film context. The key period were the 1960s because that was the time when generic system began to loosen up, a specific meta filmic relationship towards genres appeared, while non-generic movies gained in importance.

The thesis that theory follows practice when practice has already past its prime, was once more affirmed when the first more systematic theory of genre emerged at the moment when classical generic production was dieing out; at the moment when norms of particular genres were almost completely worn off and less and less binding. Modernism opened the era of interpenetration of genres and the emergence of new genres that were a direct consequence of that interpenetration.

In this sense, it is interesting to observe what was happening with genres in the postmodernist period (one could argue about the dubiousness of this term), and which genres were widely accepted and most significant for that period. This paper observes some key features of genres (types of approach, connections of genres and types of narration, the occurrence and role of citation in genres, cognitive cartography, that is to say, geopolitical-ideological concept of genres, and finally, genre as a factory of meaning). Bearing in mind these guidelines, we can see that genres in postmodernism were characterised by a structure enriched with citing polemics and emphasized eclecticism.

Postmodernism was a period of searching for new ways of returning to the story, however, not within the generic system, but behind it, or beside it. The disruption of traditional structure made works harder to interpret; their expression was more hermetic. Postmodernism was characterised by irony and self irony, which were the consequences of the awareness that one could not return to traditional schemes of narration in a system and a surrounding that no longer believed in them. The outcome was escapism whose result was a return to trivial schemes and stories.

This text attempts to test these guidelines in the analysis of postmodernist movies of different genres, different film currents and cinematographies: Star Wars by George Lucas; Lisabon Story by Wim Wenders; Dead Man by Jim Jarmush; Twin Peaks by David Lynch; Vampires by John Carpenter and Scream by Wes Craven.

Tonči Valentić

Artificial inputs: Croatian film and literary generic criticism
Classical musical
Mannerist westerns of Sergio Leone

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