Sci-Fi Film Genre Research Project


Sci-Fi films tends to hold a variety of different codes and conventions within its genre. These codes and conventions are the typical characteristics that the genre of Sci-Fi portrays in films such as characters being aliens and people from other worlds distant to the one we live in. The typical codes and conventions in Sci-Fi films are shown within the characters, the audio-visual style, the narrative, the locations the film is set, the use of props and the costume the characters wear.



The typical characters you find in Sci-Fi films are mainly aliens or other species from other worlds different to ours. Most films of the Sci-Fi genre tend to use humanoid characters of either human or another species as their main character. They tend to have the qualities of a hero if they are the main protagonist or apart of the group of main protagonists. These traits are usually that they are self effacing so they don’t tend to take attention to them self for what they do, they just do what they believe is the right thing to do. They also tend to be highly noble and sacrifice their own safety to insure that others lives are protected from the evil forces and other dangers to their safety, this is mostly shown by the main character protecting their home planet or city from danger. The hero’s personality can be shown through their costume and but also through how they act, with kindness and caring for others than themselves.


On the other side of the force, the anti-protagonist or the enemies of the typical ‘good’ characters tend to be dark and evil in comparison to the hero. The typical character who is the villain of the hero can be either a humanoid or an alien form. These characters appear to want attention from people and this is usually gained in the form of terrorising them for example, by threatening to blow up the planet with a super weapon orbiting their planet. The villain character in Sci-Fi tends to be darken and hidden in the shadows whilst they terrorise their chosen city, planet or galaxy, sticking in the minds of their victims by their dark or scary appearance. They tend to have powers that counteract the protagonists but also show their typical personality of darkness or madness, such as in Star Wars, where Darth Vader and the emperor have the power of lighting from their hands. The other types of villains that are true alien form or part cyborg, use their looks and evil ways to force fear into people and terrorise them through fear. Characters such as Alien have a different and more scary look to them so use this fear to scare its prey or the hero character, and they can often be mindless creatures that kill, which can often end in the villain attacking a character or killing them.



Films of the Sci-Fi genre tend to have a variety of different narratives to them that affect how the film plays out, although all are based on the main narrative element of the binary opposition of good and evil. One of these narratives is the development or the application of new technology such as nanotech, robots and spaceships. This has an effect on the storyline of the film because it could set the villain wanting to take the new technology and use it for evil purposes so the protagonist has to guard or retake the new technology from the villain. Another narrative that is typical to Sci-Fi films is the development of new scientific principles such as time travel. This sets the plot of the film as this can result in fractures in time that cause changes in the world the characters live but also the plot could revolve around the villain obtaining the new scientific principles and changing the course of history to their advantage. Another narrative element that is often shown in Sci-Fi films is The development and application of of new political systems for example dystopian or utopian societies. Of all these typical types of Sci-Fi narratives, the main narrative that tends to be shown is where the hero is trying to save the galaxy, planet or city from an invasion from other worldly villains that come to the place in a portal or spaceship which causes chaos on the streets and means lots of explosions tend to happen. This is typical to most films in the genre as it means that the conflict between the binary oppositions can be shown through the protagonists struggle to overcome the invasion but showing that in the end, good always exceeds than bad. These narrative examples are primarily used to often comment on the conflict within real society, mainly the relationship between countries or cultures within a nation. They are also used to create ideas in the technological or scientific imagination of the viewers.



The main location of typical Sci-Fi films is in outer space, particularly in other worlds or alternative versions of the earth. These typical locations are often in the distant future on either the present timeline or an alternative timeline. Another possibility also could be the setting of the present but with an alternative timeline, such as in Back To The Future.



Props in Sci-Fi films are typically different to the things you would see in everyday life. They have a more futuristic and space themed design to them such as most guns in Sci-Fi films wont look like the weapons we have today, they will charge energy and fire rays rather than bullets. Also, other props such as vehicles and furniture have a futuristic design rather than looking like the furniture we have today, this could be things such as floating tables that require no legs. Most props are used to reflect the era they are set in, so if its far in the future the props will be more futuristic to imply the change and advancement over time.




The costume that a character wears in Sci-Fi films also represent the era that the film is set in. For example, something that is set in the future in space features some form of spacesuit that is more advanced than ours are in the present.

Also costume can be used to reflect the characters personality in a film. If the colours are light then they would typically be apart of the good side in the film and possibly is one of the heroes, such as in Star Wars with Luke Skywalker, whereas if the colours are dark, then they would be thought of as dark and evil characters, such as Darth Vader.  This concept also works to show the characters mood, such as if the character wears more darker clothing than they did, this could show anger and aggression in the characters feelings.




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