Semantic Approach to Film

Rick Altman’s semantic/syntactic way of approaching film deals almost entirely with genre theory. He has three basic approaches:

Semantics are the locations, characters, and props that the audience expects for a film in a particular genre. He applies these in saying that by simply looking at a setting, or a prop, the audience can determine the genre that the film will be. I believe this is true but cannot be applied to all films. There are some in which which it is true for example, with horror movies. If the props include chainsaws, knives, or oujia boards, it can be determined that the film is a horror. In other films, you can not tell immediately. For example, the beginning of the film Krampus which is seen in the trailers, makes it seem like it would be a nice holiday film or maybe a comedy instead of a horror.

The syntactic approach is what the audience expects out of the narrative of the film. Again, in horror movies, it is typical that out of the cast, at least one guy and one girl survive. In paranormal films, there is typically a wise old woman who knows all about ghosts and other creatures.