Visual Language

For this assignment I have chosen the following Genres under each category.

Film – Horror

Photography – Urban Street Photography

Paintings – Portraits


The films I have looked at are, The Devil Inside, Mama and Saw.

The Devil Inside


From watching the trailer to this film, it is instantly recognisable under the horror genre. The first thing you hear is the eerie music setting a creepy ambience for the trailer. Music similar to this is used constantly within the horror genre in order to build mise en scene. Footage of a mental institute relates connotations of the insane and deranged. As audiences often relate what they see to what they know. When witnessing the footage of an exorcism I relay to the film the 1973 horror classic The Exorcist, Therefore categorising the film into this genre.




Again watching this trailer you instantly identify the film within the horror genre. Similar eerie music is playing behind images of disturbed looking children. As the dialog describes a creepy back story to the audience. Screams towards the end of the trailer suggest fear and terror. Attributes we automatically identify with this genre.



The strange setting of this film creates an environment audiences will associate with the horror genre. Whilst elements such as blood and gore relay to typical iconography used within horror films. The twisted children’s doll seen in the film also becomes a signifier towards the horror genre when related to films such as Chucky and Magic.


All these films, although different in their story lines, share similar codes and conventions that allow audiences to categorise them in to the horror genre.

Photography – Urban and Street Photography

Transcendent of and usually gritty than big picture cityscape photography. Urban landscapes document and explore the places where people live and gather, focusing on the city it’s self and it’s life.


Photograph taken by Stephane found on flicker.

As you can see this image not only portrays an individual within the frame but also a time and a place, as a piece of Candid photography taken without pose giving the photo an unstaged and natural element.


Photograph taken by Abtin Eshraghi

Again this image not only portrays an individual, but also a place. With its main focus being on the woman (right of the frame) the photographer has used depth of field to portray a busy inter city back drop.


Photoraph taken by Markus Hartal

I feel this image portrays a gritty urban backdrop, suggested by the graffiti on the window of what appears to be a train or subway. All these images document both people and a place within an urban enviroment.

Painting – Portrait

Portrait painting is a genre in painting, where the intent is to depict the visual appearance of the subject. Beside human beings, animals, pets and even inanimate objects can be chosen as the subject for a portrait.

mona-lisa1 The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci

This is possibly the most famous portrait i could think of, recognised throughout the world. The Painting would be classified as a portrait as it is based souly on the individual, painted to make them seem timeless as an artistic snapshoot in time. It is said that the Mona Lisa’s eyes can follow a viewer around the room, creating the illusion she is always watching you.

henry8images Henry the VII , Artist unknown

Again the painting is based souly on the individual, painted to make the king look majestic in extravagant clothing.

gogh_self-orsay Self Portarit by Vincent Van Gogh

Although this painting would be categorized as a portrait I feel it also contains an element of surrealism, due to the wavey brush strokes used to create its back ground.



This task helped me to identify with different genres across various platforms such as paintings and photography. Paintings being something I have never really taken much interest in. Although this task has encouraged me to look in to Paintings such as the ones I used in the task in more depth allowing me to see how they can relay to techniques used in modern photography.


Film Genre

Genre is a means of categorising texts and is done by both audiences and producers. A text is most commonly categorised by iconography, mise en scene and semiotics. Tools that relate a text into a certain category through the use of codes and conventions as well as audience expectations, in relation to other texts.

Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels

Genre – Crime

This movie would fall under the genre of crime as its storyline is based around various criminal acts. The film is set around London’s criminal under world with various characters being gangsters, drug dealers and debt collectors. For example Vinnie Jones’s character (Big Tony). These are all elements that could be expected from a British film that falls within the crime genre. Therefore audiences are likely to relate to its Iconography using cultural reference and connotations in order to categorise it under the Crime genre.

For example, audiences see an image of a sawn off shot gun and instantly relay it to what they know. A sawn off shot gun is an illegal weapon, this instantly suggests crime and violence.


Although this film falls under the genre of crime there can also be an element of comedy found within the films dialog and narrative.

Warrior – Drama


Although this film is based around the subject of Mixed Martial Arts i.e Cage fighting and could be seen as a film that would fall under the genre of Sports or Action. The movies narrative definitely suggests drama. With the films main focus being around the broken relationships between both farter and son as well as the two brothers that end up face to face in the ring. Drama often plays of human emotion relaying individuals feelings towards a situation for audiences to relate to.


Anchorman – Comedy


The first thing that suggests this film is a comedy is the casting of Will Ferrell, an actor that is well known under the genre of comedy. This creates audience expectations, that this film will be funny as they relate to what they know.

Constant jokes throughout the films narrative cement this movie under the genre of comedy.


Black Hawk Down – Action , War

Black_hawk_down_ver1 black-hawk-down

Firstly audiences may relate the movies title to the true event the story line is based around depending on there cultural reference and knowledge of its happening.

Others may categorise this film through what they see as it plays out. For example military uniforms instantly suggest war. Whilst shootouts and explosions suggest action to its audience.

“Yet….. this process of classification dose not systematically organise films into genres. this is because the boundaries between film genres are fuzzy, rather than clearly delineated. Moreover, genres are not static but evolve, therefore, there common attributes change over time. Most films are hybrid genres, since they possess the common attributes of more than one genre.”

– Film Studies By Warren Buckland



This tasked helped refresh my memory when applying genre theory to media texts such as film and photography. This is something I had learnt in A- level media. It was useful to go back over theories such as semiotics, codes conventions and signifiers. As it can all be applied when analysing photographers work.