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25 Cards in this Set

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They are the genres we deem them to be at production, exhibition and distribution. All films are genre films. They can be identified by iconography, convention and syntax.


The visual markers of a genre. For instance a cowboy has his ten gallon hat and his revolver.


Conventions are the generally accepted ways of doing something. Such as one last job.


The way that the film demonstrates it's elements, the arrangement/grammar of a film.


The peplum film (pepla plural), also known as sword-and-sandal, is a genre of largely Italian-made historical or Biblical epics (costume dramas) that dominated the Italian film industry from 1958 to 1965, eventually being replaced in 1965 by Eurospy films and Spaghetti Westerns.


“Genres are what we collectively believe them to be” 
(Andrew Tudor, 1973, p.139)

Genres can be identified by their iconography, convention and syntax.

Stages of genre development-

1. Experimental

2. Classical

3. Refinement

4. Parody

Stages of genre development in peplum-

1. Experimental: Cabiria and other media like strong man shows

2. Classical: La Fatiche di Ercole, other bodybuilder/Steve Reeves movies.

3. Spartacus, Conan

4. A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

The Sword and Sandal reboot-

Modern films like Troy or Pompeii.

There are also films which eschew the iconography like the Hunger Games or Gamer. They are Sword and Sandal movies- different settings with the same aspects. A good parallel is Star Wars, as a western in space.

The genre changed with it's reboot- the issue of whiteness becomes an issue of whitewashing, higher production value, less boy building more leading man celebs, comic book violence, explicit sex scene and transplantation from locations with different genre affectations.


Film trailers are a key site of genre demarcation and identification. Along with posters.


Iconography: it's hero, the American body builders like Reeves/the loincloth/the colosseum

Convention: the Herculean act, the exotic dance, the evil tyrant, damsel in distress,

Syntax: episodic comic book narrative, flashbacks

Steve Reeves-

Stephen Lester "Steve" Reeves (January 21, 1926 – May 1, 2000) was an American professional bodybuilder, actor, and philanthropist. He traveled to Italy in the mid-1950s to star in a series of Italian-made peplum films featuring characters such as Hercules, Goliath, Sandokan and others. At the peak of his career, he was the highest-paid actor in Europe.

Body building-

Boby builders were used for the main roles of peplum movies- we can analyse the issue of the prominence of white male bodies in movies like Hercules.


“The time of the peplum is the time of the morituri, literally Barthes’ ‘going to die’ of still photography, a future without a future.” 
(Rushing, 2016, p.57)


“Rather than attempt to side the peplum (and by implication its audience) either with or against fascism, it should be seen as an imaginary working through of the shameful momentousness of the period, shameful because was fascist or because it was defeated” (Dyer, 1997, p.172)

Context continued-

The obvious social context would be the rise of fascism in Italy and the leadership of Mussolini- with the idolisation of the “ubermensch”. But while Hercules, played by Steve Reeves, is an example of this “perfect white body” other aspects of the peplum reject this fascistic view point. Such as the protagonist position on the sidelines and refusal to take his role as a leader, he works for the society and protects them but does not act as a fearless leader. So the film both has aspects which fit in to the fascist mould but reject their principles.


“As long as race is something only applied to non-white peoples, as long as white people are not racially seen and named, they/we function as a human norm…There is no more powerful position than that of being ‘just’ humnan. The claim to power is the claim to speak for the commonality of humanity. Raced people can’t do that – they can only speak for their race.” (Dyer, 1997, pp.1-2)

Hercules 1958, La Fatiche di Ercole-

After the quick thinking of Hercules (Steve Reeves) saves Princess Iole (Sylva Koscina), he is tasked with training her irresponsible brother, Iphitus (Mimmo Palmara), to assume their father's place as king. Hercules falls for the beautiful Iole, but must perform a series of grueling tasks when Iphitus is killed in a tragic accident. When the mysterious Jason (Fabrizio Mioni) appears and claims to be the rightful king, he, Hercules and the Argonauts set sail for the legendary Golden Fleece.


Relating to the sense of touch.

Road show epic-

A roadshow theatrical release (known also as reserved seat engagement) was a term in the motion picture industry for a practice in which a film opened in a limited number of theaters in large cities like New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and other major cities around the world for a specific period of time before the nationwide general release. Although variants of roadshow releases occasionally still exist, the practice mostly ended in the early 1970s.


It is Italian for trend or tradition.

Peplum conventions-

Classicism, Californianism, barbarism (opp. of technocrats), crucifixionism


Hercules uses examples of pastiche. It is based on the epic Greek poem Argonautica and experimental pepla like Cabirira.


The following of traditional and long-established theories or styles.

Features of classicism-

Avoids extremes

Tends to be strong on story, star and production value

High level of technical accomplishment

Employs the conventions of classical editing

Linear timeline, “invisible” transitions

Sets of conventions, considered the “norm” particularly in American cinema

A narrative structure based on the dramatic conflict between protagonist and antagonist

Builds intensity to a dramatic conflict in which one force must “win” and one must “lose” the climax

Ends with a clear sense of closure, resolution

Boring gaps in the narrative are edited out

The story has a central conflict

The storyline drives the events toward resolution of that central conflict The classical paradigm is generally followed