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Defining drama genre

Hey everyone. I have been discussing with peeps I know about the drama genre for some time - we'd like to know what typically defines the drama genre?

-You know, like if there's supposedly always a romance involved or whatnot.

Can you help me (us) out? :)

thanks in advance


Dear siff-stutz. - First of all, Drama is one of the least visited IMDb boards, and people arriving here will be more interested in discussing dramas than in defining concepts. So my first suggestion is that you post the same message on the I NEED TO KNOW board. - This is the right place, because there is really something you want knowledge about.

I might try to give an answer, but there are some reasons why I hesitate. Whether of not you are a European yourself, it is a fact that in Europe we are much less interested in these classifications in categories than Americans are. Moreover, I think that the concept have changed its meaning considerably during the last 50 years.

It is not an absolute request that a drama must be tragic, and must have a tragic end. But more often than not they are so. It is more easy to perceive that a novel or play or movie is emotional, if the emotions are negative. And it is a fact that the audiences in the late 1930s and 1940s, and perhaps until the middle 1960s were much more fond of highly tragic movies.

I selected 102 movies from my computer, which are indisputably dramas. I deliberately abstained from silent movies. In turn I limited my list to the (chronologically) first and list 25 films. I cannot guess how many of them you have seen. Anyway, in the first series it is astonishing in how many movies one or both of a loving couple who dies.
All films in my lists are clearly dramas. But not all of them are about (heterosexual or homosexual) love relationships. I have marked some clear exceptions with three stars.
No doubt "To Live" is a drama. But the most central idea is that a high official learns that he has cancer, and although the doctors are lying, he can see that he has 3-6 months left of his life – and had for a long time wasted his life. Now, in these few months he succeeds in doing something genuine with his life, and he is indeed happy when the time comes for his exit.


FIRST LIST (1930-1954)

"Tabu" by Murnau, Friedrich (USA, 1930)

"You Only Live Once" by Lang, Fritz (USA, 1937)

"Quai des brûmes" (Quay of Fog) by Carné, Marcel (France, 1938)

"Le jour se lève" (Daybreak) by Carné, Marcel (France, 1939)

"Waterloo Bridge" by LeRoy, Mervin (UK, 1940)

"Brief Encounter" by Lean, David (UK, 1945)

"Les enfants du Paradis" (Children of Paradise) by Carné, Marcel (France, 1945)

"Les portes de la nuit " (Gates of Night) by Carné, Marcel (France, 1946)

"Kvinna utan ansikte" (A Woman Without a Face) by Molander, Gustaf (Sweden, 1947)

"Les jeux sont faits" (The Dices Are Thrown) by Delannoy, Jean (France, 1947)

"Anna Karenina" by Duvivier, Julien (USA, 1948)

"Letter from an unknown woman" by Opuls, Max (USA, 1948)

"L'épave" (The Wreck/Sin and Desire) by Rozier, Willy (France, 1949)

"A Streetcar Named Desire" by Kazan, Elia (USA, 1950)

"The Glass Menagerie" by Rapper, Irving (USA, 1950)

"Fröken Julie" (Miss Julie) by Sjöberg, Alf (Sweden, 1951)

"Le due verità" (The Two Truths) by Leonviola, Antonia (Italy/France, 1951)

"Sommarlek" (Summer Interlude) by Bergman, Ingmar (Sweden, 1951)

"Une histoire d'amour" (A Story of Love) by Lefranc, Guy (France, 1951)

"Carrie" by Wyler, William (USA, 1952)

"Gibier de potence" (Prey of the Gallows) by Richebé, Roger (France, 1952)

*** "Ikiru" (To Live) by Kurosawa, Akira (Japan, 1952)

"Saikaku ichidai onna" (Oharu) by Mizuguchi, Kenji (Japan, 1952)

*** "Karin Månsdotter" by Sjöberg, Alf (Sweden, 1954)

"La strada" by Fellini, Federico (Italy, 1954)


SECOND LIST (1979-2007)

"Tess" by Polanski, Roman (UK, 1979)

"Ran" by Kurosawa, Akira (Japan, 1985)

"Rok spokojnego slonca" (The Year of the Quiet Sun) by Zanussi, Krzysztof (Poland, 1985)

"Krotki film a milosci" (A Little Movie of Love) by Kieslowski, Krzysztof (Poland, 1987)

*** "Dekalog 7" (Dekalogue 7, "Thou Shalt Not Steal") by Kieslowski, Krzysztof (Poland, 1988)

"J'embrasse pas" (I Don't Kiss) by Téchiné, André (France, 1991)

"Balti armastuslood" (Baltic Love) by Urbla, Peeter (Estonia, 1992)

*** "Il ladre di bambini" (Stolen Children) by Amelio, Gianni (Italy, 1992)

"Les nuits fauves" (Violent Nights) by Collard, Cyril (France, 1992)

"Priest" by Bird, Antonia (UK, 1994)

"30:de november" (The 30th November) by Fridell, Daniel (Sweden, 1995)

"Mee Pok Man" by Khoo, Eric (Singapore, 1995)

"Great Expectations" by Cuarón, Alfonso (USA, 1997)

"Jeanne et le garcon formidable" (Jeanne and the Perfect Guy) by Ducastel, Olivier & Martineau, Jacques (France, 1997)

*** "Seul contre tous" (I Stand Alone) by Noé, Gaspar (France, 1998)

"The End of the Affair" by Jordan, Neil (UK, 1998)

"Der Krieger und die Kaiserin" (The Warrior and the Empress) by Tykwer, Tom (Germany, 2001)

"Les diables" (The Little Devils) by Ruggia, Christophe (France, 2002)

*** "Stormy Weather" by Anspach, Solveig (France/Iceland, 2003)

"To livadi pou dakryzei" (Weeping Meadow) by Angelopoulos, Theodor (Greece, 2003)

*** "A House of Sand and Fog" by Perelman, Vadim (USA, 2003)

"Veer-Zaara" by Chopra, Yash (India, 2004)

"Caché" (The Threat) by Haneke, Michael (France, 2005)

*** "Va, vis et deviens" (Go, Live, and Become) by Mihaileanu, Radu (France/Israel, 2005)

"Auf der anderen Seite" (At Heaven's Edge) by Akin, Fatih (Germany/Turkey, 2007)



Must be mostly 'serious, not comic'. No romance is needed, but it helps, as long as there is conflict. At least that's how I look at it.

"Did you make coffee...? Make it!"--Cheyenne.


Tear jerkers that reach into the soul and makes you feel like you know the characters. You see the events happening, wanting to intervene and by the end feel your heart was ripped out.