Okay – you’re looking for some serious entertainment. You want Drama. How about movies with Jean-Paul Belmondo, Richard Thomas, Robert Preston, Jeff Goldblum, Anthony Hopkins, Richard Burton, Gene Kelly, James Brolin, Frank Sinatra, Joseph Cotton, and actresses Glynnis O’Connor, Jean Seberg, Marilyn Monroe, Amanda Pays, Joan Crawford, Elizabeth Taylor, Lynn Redgrave, Natalie Wood, Jacqueline Bisset, Sophia Loren, Clare Trevor, Kim Novak and more, directed by Drama aficionados Otto Preminger, Roger Vadim, Waris Hussein, Robert Webb, Alfred Hitchcock, Jean-Luc Godard and Sondra Locke.
Drama films are part of a film genre or category that depends mostly on in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional themes. Dramatic themes such as alcoholism, drug addiction, infidelity, moral dilemmas, racial prejudice, religious intolerance, sexuality, poverty, class divisions, violence against women and corruption put the characters in conflict with themselves, others, society and even natural phenomena. Drama is one of the broadest movie genres and includes subgenres such as romantic drama, sports films, period drama, courtroom drama and crime.
At the center of a drama is usually a character or characters that are in conflict at a crucial moment in their lives. They often revolve around families; movies like Ordinary People dig under the skin of everyday life to ask big questions and touch on the deepest emotions of normal people. Dramas often, but not always, have tragic or at least painful resolutions and concern the survival of some tragic crisis, like the death of a family member (Terms of Endearment), or a divorce (Kramer vs. Kramer). Some of the greatest screen performances come from dramas, as there is ample opportunity for actors to stretch into a role that most other genres cannot afford.
Drama films have been nominated frequently for the Academy Award (particularly Best Picture)—more than any other film genre.
Dramatic films include a very large spectrum of film genres. Because of the large number of drama films, these movies have been subcategorized:
- 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.
- Docudrama: the difference between a docudrama and a documentary is that in a documentary it uses real people to describe history or current events; in a docudrama it uses professionally trained actors to play the roles in the current event that is “dramatized” a bit. Not to be confused with docu-fiction.
- Psychodrama: a sub-type of drama film relying on the human psyche to create tension, suspense and/or anticipation between the actors and dramatic self-presentation to investigate and gain insight into their lives.
- 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.” If they are targeted to a male audience, then they are called “guy cry” films.
- 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.