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How Do the Genre and Narrative Elements Within My Chosen Sequence Help to Create Meaning for the Audience?

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How do the genre and narrative elements within my chosen sequence help to create meaning for the audience?

When deciding on what films to watch audiences rely on their knowledge of genre and narrative conventions. When audiences see something new their minds already hold a set of existing ideas on which they have picked up on over the years from experience or what they've been told, because of this audiences are able to identify particular genres therefore expect certain things within a particular genre, this may in fact help the audience enjoy the film more as they are able to predict what might happen next. If however something does not follow what the audience expects to see then it has failed to follow its genre conventions however this could be a positive thing because it may surprise audiences and get them excited.

Genre can affect the form, structure, style, content, setting, characters and events to expect in a particular narrative. For every genre, there are a set of repertoire of elements which means there are events or characters which are often repeated again and again for a particular genre, this causes audiences to be aware of events before they've taken place and what will happen next in the narrative.

In this essay I will be analyzing the genre and narrative conventions within the 10 minute opening sequence for a science-fiction comedy from 1985 called 'Back to the future' distributed by Universal studios, directed by Robert Lee Zemeckis and produced by Steven Spielberg. Once the audience see Steven Spielberg's name, which in itself is a brand as he's best known for being a successful director, creating films of entertainment, adventure and fun, which are not too deep, this gives the audience possible ideas and themes of what the film might have but also, it suggests that the film will be entertaining and fun.

Marty Mcfly is the story's protagonist, he's played by Michael J. Fox who up until that point in time was mostly known for his role in the TV series, 'family ties', though, after having done 'Back to the future' Michael quickly shot to movie stardom in the mid 1980s and became heavily associated with comedy-teenpic genres, such as 'Teen Wolf, The Secret to my success' and also the 'Back to the future' sequels.

'Back to the future' is undoubtedly part of the teenpic genre as it focuses on a teenage character but it is also a science-fiction comedy, which mainly focuses on time travel, this makes it part of the hybrid genre and means it will appeal to a wider audience thus ensuring film success and profit. The film proved to be quite a success and was found to be the highest grossing film of 1985 (quote from wikipedia.com), so successful in fact that the film was followed by two sequels forming a trilogy. Like other films of the same genre, such as 'The time machine', 'Austin Powers' and 'The Butterfly effect', they have all been a success and are all part of the same hybrid genre, perhaps hybrid genres are successful as they manage to appeal to a larger number of audiences.

'Back to the Future' does not go along with the conventions of the science fiction genre, this is because the conventions are not as traditional as they are thought to be. Most audiences before watching this film expect it to be set on a miśe en scene of a science fiction film, i.e. a distant planet or a far way planet that is yet to be discovered. In a science fiction style film, there will not always be elements in the film that are conventional of that genre. The location time of the film is typically set in the future or the past; however, in this film, the majority is set in the past tense.

Moreover, Levi-Strauss' concepts of binary opposites are noticeable throughout, the early shots show Fox's character, Mary Mcfly, as being very "cool" by teen standards: he's an expert skateboarder, won't take being called "chicken", wears Nike trainers, plays guitar in a rock band, and has a serious girlfriend, Jennifer (Claudia Wells). However his father, George Mcfly (Crispin Glover) is a weeping nerd, still terrorized and mocked by his former school classmate and bully, Biff Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson) who is now his boss at work.

An additional example of Levi-Strauss' concepts of binary opposites is the contrast in attitudes and lifestyles between the fifties and the eighties. When Marty walks into a diner to find a phone book and the owner asks him why he is wearing a life preserver (his body warmer), or when Lorraine calls him Calvin because she saw Calvin Klein embroidered on his underwear, or when Marty sees a car drive into the Texaco station and four uniformed attendants come out and service the vehicle with the speed of a race track pit crew, the audience is reminded of how much things change in a generation.

Furthermore, another example of Levi-Strauss' concepts of binary opposites are the way in which Marty used to dress in the eighties: Nike trainers, jeans coat and body warmer, when he is then transported to 1955 Marty realizes that he must change his style to fit in with the times, so then you see a switch to black All Star high tops, jeans with turned up cuffs, 50's styles shirts and jackets. These binary opposites help emphasize the different attitudes and beliefs between the people living in the eighties and the people living in the fifties.

'Back to the future' focuses on time travel which is a very popular concept to use in science

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