Skip main navigation


Looking at visual cues to determine the genre of a film.
© Images iStockphoto

The mise-en-scène of a film helps us to determine its genre (the type of film). Genre is very important to audiences (and therefore filmmakers) as it helps us to distinguish the types of films we may like to go to see.

You can tell the genre of a film by examining the mise-en-scène; the filmmaker will demonstrate the genre by the use of recurring motifs or clichés such as a full moon or a graveyard within a horror film. A galaxy setting and spacecraft would suggest the sci-fi genre. Genre is common to film and literary texts and is a great way of introducing students to textual analysis.

What genre do you think is suggested by the images below?

western scene horror scene

Below you will find our Genre Conventions Table for use in class. The table has columns for genre, typical props and objects, themes, characters, settings and plotlines. In class, you could screen a variety of trailers and students could use the table to interrogate each one and establish the genre using the table to provide evidence for their decisions.

© Images iStockphoto
This article is from the free online

Teaching Literacy Through Film

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education