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May 2000, Week 4


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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
"Pizzato, Mark" <[log in to unmask]>
Wed, 24 May 2000 14:50:36 -0400
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Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
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Aren't all films dramas?

What JD describes sounds like "crisis drama" (as it's called in theatre),
which can be traced from Aristotle's theory of tragedy to the modern "well
made play."  Certainly many films have been influenced by that tradition.


Mark Pizzato
Asst. Professor
Dept. of Dance and Theatre
Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
Charlotte, NC 28223
Phone: (704) 547-4488
FAX: 704-547-3795

> JD
> Kyoto
> Part One: Drama
> Drama is an unusual genre in terms of popular cinema.  As well as trying
> to
> entertain, the films try to make people think.  They present life's
> problems, both small and large, and show how people cope with them.
> The focus of drama is on the human character.  It often takes the form of
> a
> crisis of some sort, such as unemployment, discrimination, relationship
> troubles, or dying.  A common subject is that of illness.  Characters who
> cope successfully with suffering not only give a positive message of hope
> but show the strength of the human spirit.  It is such a common 'recipe'
> for stories that critics talk of films with 'Disease of the month'.
> Conflict and change are crucial to drama.  The heroes search for a way
> through a world of crisis, and in their fight against hardship they win
> the
> sympathy of the audience.  In a sense they act as our representatives and
> suffer on our behalf.
> When the heroes of drama are put to the test, they need advice or some
> kind
> of inner faith to support them.  This usually comes from an older person,
> or someone who has faced a similar kind of challenge before.  In Forrest
> Gump the advisor is Gump's mother, whose words remain in his mind long
> after she has died.
> Dramas can take many forms.  They may be set in the past (historical
> drama)
> or in the future.  They may be serious in nature, or light-hearted like
> Forrest Gump.  Some are personal in nature, whereas others are more
> concerned with social issues.  Rain Man (1988 ), for instance, shows how a
> young man played by Tom Cruise is affected for the better by spending a
> week with his handicapped brother.  Philadelphia (1993 ) on the other hand
> is concerned with attitudes to homosexuality and Aids, which it portrays
> through the story of two lawyers.
> Forrest Gump is both personal and social.  On the one hand it is the
> biography of a man with a subnormal IQ and the lessons that can be learnt
> from his life.  On the other hand it shows the changes in American society
> between the 1950s and 1980s.  Though Gump's life is unique, he faces
> problems similar to those that we all face at one time or another.  The
> way
> in which he deals with them provides encouragement to us with our own
> problems.

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