Similarly, a horror movie will have some horrifying scenes showing death of all except the hero. A ‘thriller’ is another genre where suspense and horror are expected to be seen. Even television shows are being associated with genres like ‘game shows’ and ‘sitcoms’

Genre theory has several important factors that help form the genres that define a film.

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Genre theory is helpful in deciding the content and style of the film.


The study of a film involves understanding of the audience that it intends to target. So when studying a classic like Gilda, it is of paramount importance to know that role of woman was an interesting element to the viewers. After Second World War, the woman’s role was significantly redefining the social patterns and thus the time and then audience play a vital role.

Time Period:

Genre theory also takes into account the time period in which the film was produced. Time period decides the value system, the lighting and camera technology used. Present day films use high speed cameras and more precise cameras for shooting. A film’s pace and rhythm can be changed with editing.

A film often has its base on the core values that prevail in the era or the time when the film is shot. This is of prime importance to the people who were contemporary to that film and may not hold any meaning for those watching it today.


Genre theory helps in marketing the film. Both producers and audience use the genre as a logo for defining the kind of film people want to watch. This is truer of movie genre.

In spite of the role played by Genre theory in studying and analyzing films, there are many disagreements to the existence and definition of it. Some feel that a genre is an abstract concept. They are of the belief that it is not something with an empirical presence.

How a sub-genre may be derived from genre of a genre from its super genre is relative to the theorist defining it. Furthermore, the basis of genre is so vague ranging from the time period( English movies of 1960), the subject( terrorism, family, war based films), the audience(adult), the structure( narrative), the performer( Tom Cruise’s films) to the budget(blockbusters) and many more . Also the generic labels have certain problems. There is no extent of breadth or narrowness, a categorization means there are preconceived ideas about a film’s membership in a genre; an item cannot always belong to one genre etc.

Thus, in order to study a film of the genre western, it is important to have principal characteristics that can help define a western film. There are often genre overlaps and features seem characteristic of a genre are not unique to it.

Hence no firm logical classification of genres is possible and genre definitions are always relative. Genres should be studied as a historical phenomenon and conventions evolving within a genre have become a popular area of focus in studying films.

Genre theory has different concepts in relation to different fields like writing, mass media, films etc. Genre is redefined also as focusing broadly on the relationships between the makers and the audiences. For example, in relation to mass media, genre is defined as a category that mediates between industry and audience. Different genres cater to different audience and hence the relative stability of a genre helps understand the audience expectations.

In reference to text, the genre can be seen as a shared code between the producers and the interpreters of the text included within it.

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