A drama film
is a film genre
that depends mostly on in-depth development
of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, poverty, crime and corruption put the characters in conflict with themselves, others, society and even natural phenomena.
This film genre can be contrasted with an action film which relies on fast-paced action, and physical conflict but superficial character development. All film genres can include dramatic elements, but typically, films considered drama films focus mainly on the drama of the main issue.
Some of well-known drama films include The Godfather (1972), The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and Schindler's List (1993) ref> "Top Drama Movies". Internet Movie Database
Dramatic films include a very large spectrum of film genres. Because of the large number of drama films, these movies have been sub-categorized:
- Crime drama and Legal drama - Character development based on themes involving criminals, law enforcement and the legal system.
- Historical drama (epic) (including War drama) - Films that focus on dramatic events in history.
- Biographical drama (biopic) - Films that focus on true stories of real people.
- Comedy-drama: is in which there is an equal, or nearly equal balance of humor and serious content.
- Melodrama: a sub-type of drama films that uses plots that appeal to the heightened emotions of the audience. Melodramatic plots often deal with "crises of human emotion, failed romance or friendship, strained familial situations, tragedy, illness, neuroses, or emotional and physical hardship." Film critics sometimes use the term "pejoratively to connote an unrealistic, pathos-filled, campy tale of romance or domestic situations with stereotypical characters (often including a central female character) that would directly appeal to feminine audiences. Also called "women's movies", "weepies", tearjerkers, or "chick flicks".
- Romance: a sub-type of dramatic film which dwells on the elements of romantic love.
- Tragedy: a drama in which a character's downfall is caused by a flaw in their character or by a major error in judgment.
From the silent era to the 1950s, Dramas were tools to teach the audience. Films like The Grapes of Wrath
(1940) show the effects of the depression. Citizen Kane
(1941) was said by Orson Welles to not be a biography of William Randolph Hearst
, but a composite of many people from that era.
In the 1950s, began a rise in well-known dramatic actors. Glenn Ford
, James Dean
, Bette Davis
, and Marilyn Monroe
were notable dramatic actors. Dramatic Films focused on character relationships and development. All About Eve
(1950) focused on women, and their relationship with men. Rebel Without a Cause
(1955) displayed teenage angst. Films like 12 Angry Men
(1957) and Anatomy of a Murder
(1959) show the inner workings of a courtroom. The 1950s was the debut of Akira Kurosawa
, and films such as Rashomon
(1950) and Seven Samurai
The 1960s brought politically driven dramas focusing on war, such as Judgment at Nuremberg
(1961), and The Manchurian Candidate
(1962). Sports dramas became inspiration such as The Hustler
(1961) and Downhill Racer
During the 1970s, modern dramatic directors made some of their first films. Francis Ford Coppola directed The Godfather (1972). Martin Scorsese directed Taxi Driver (1976), Mean Streets (1973), and musical drama New York, New York (1977). Sylvester Stallone created one of the most successful sports drama franchises Rocky (1976) and also directed the sequel Rocky II (1979). In addition, in sports drama were films that focused on the struggle of athletes such as Brian's Song (1970), and The Longest Yard (1974). War films and specifically World War II films were produced, giving the most realistic adaptation of the war seen in films at that time. Tora! Tora! Tora! (1970), Patton (1970), and Apocalypse Now (1979), which all show the trials and hardships of war, are still considered classic war films.
In the 1980s, dramatic film put emphasis on highly emotional themes. Do the Right Thing
(1989), Spike Lee
's debut film, and The Color Purple
(1985) were full character studies of African American culture and history. War dramas again played a big part as Platoon
(1986) showed the horrors of Vietnam. Das Boot
(1981) focused on the German viewpoint of World War II. Drama, with a science fiction edge was a theme when Steven Spielberg
directed E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial
(1982), and Ridley Scott directed Blade Runner
During the 1990s, Goodfellas (1990) took a gritty, hard-edged look at mob crime. The Shawshank Redemption (1994), which was set inside a prison, had strong themes of hope, as did the Holocaust-themed Schindler's List (1993). Dramas also took a turn with existentialist thrillers like, Fight Club (1999) and the tale of suburban angst American Beauty
(1999). Race relationships were a theme in American History X (1998), and the AIDs epidemic and discrimination were the focus of Philadelphia (1993). Comedy-drama was featured with films like Jerry Maguire (1996) and Barton Fink (1991).
In the 2000s, biopics
such as Ali
(2004), and Walk the Line
(2005) have become popular among filmmakers, particularly those seeking critical acclaim such as Academy Awards
(2000) is an epic dramatic film, along with Master and Commander
(2003). The Gulf War and similar skirmishes were an inspiration for dramatic films in war drama movies like Black Hawk Down
(2001) and Jarhead