Genre: Biographies

The main definition for genre as defined by the online dictionary, is

“a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterised by a particular style, form, or content.” (1)

Genre, a word originating from France, meaning “kind” or “sort” can be written, spoken, audio or visual, based on a set of stylistic criteria. Over time, as styles and conventions change, new genres are invented and older ones discontinued.

There are almost a dozen main genres, and within these, there are sub-genres, which can describe practically any film ever made.

It was not until the 1970s that film began to be analysed through genres. All films have at least one major genre, but there can be more with some films having up to four sub-genres that can also be used. (ref:

The Auteur System can be contrasted to the genre system, in which films are rated on the basis of the expression of one person, usually the director, because his/her indelible style, authoring vision or ‘signature’ dictates the personality, look, and feel of the film. Certain directors and actors are known for certain types of films, for example, Woody Allen and comedy, Alfred Hitchcock for suspense and thrillers and John Ford and John Wayne with westerns. (2)

Biographies deal with the life of an individual and have the power to tell the stories of the everyday men and women of this world. A well made biography can be motivational, heartbreaking, humourous, and even frightening.

Most biographies will be fictionalised versions, with “Based On A True Story” being shown before the movie commences.

Bronson, starring Tom Hardy, is a film about Britain’s most violent prisoner, Michael Peterson. In 1974 Peterson was sentenced to seven years in prison for robbing a post office, but ends up spending over 30 years in more than 100 different prisons. Although, he is a notorious criminal, the visual styling of the movie portrays the three decades through fashion and environment. As he creates his alter ego of Charles Bronson, his dialogue portrays time and place. We know Bronson is a violent, psychotic criminal, but the movie keeps our total revulsion suspended with a comedic narrative throughout. (3)


Bronson. (2008).Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Photo credit-

If the sub-genre of Bronson were changed from bio/comedic to only drama, the audience would have no room for empathy for Michael Peterson. Through the direction of Director, Tom Hardy’s Peterson has snuck in to our subconscious us as someone we mistakenly believe we could actually like.


Bronson.(2008).Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Photocredit-

Fictionalised or not, a biography, is still the story of an individual we do not know and would never know if not through film; whether it be Jobs, showing us the legacy of Steve Jobs and Apple; or Bronson, a hardened criminal. Both can make you come away with different emotions, outlooks on the world and the people who live in it.







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