The Novelty of Cinematic Romance has been Lost in the 21st Century
The Novelty of Cinematic Romance has been Lost in the 21st Century
Romance is the feeling, excitement or obsession connected to love towards a person, object or place. In films, romance is portrayed as loves stories showing the obsession, feeling or excitement between characters. Romance film or movies are love stories that emphasize emotion, passion and affectionate relationship between main characters (Gehring 1986, p.31). In most cases, these romantic stories represent a journey of genuinely true, strong and pure romantic love that end up in the marriage of courtship. In other words, the main plot of romantic films is love, and the theme is always evident in the way characters treat each other and the soundtrack of the movie. Ideally, romance films can be in the form of comedy, tragedy, or drama. However, regardless of the form or style of the film, the overriding theme is love.
For years, romantic films have captured the imaginations of viewers. People have become obsessed with love stories and how they are told in films. For example, mainstream American films such as “Titanic” and “Maid in Manhattan” conquered the emotions of both male and females globally. However, romantic films have been evolved over the years. In the 1960s, the romance was portrayed differently. The romance films were all about drama, love, and tragedy. For instance, a 1967 romance film “Barefoot in the Park” starring Robert Redford as Paul and Jane Fonda as Corie portrayed the theme of love through drama and tragedy (Sorlin 1980, p.21). The film focused on the life and experiences of the newlywed characters, Corie and Paul, in their new apartment. Together with other romance films in the 1960s such as “The Apartment,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Doctor Zhivago,” among others, the portrayal of love during this period was mainly done through drama and tragedies.
Romance film in the modern era has evolved. Today, the theme of love and romance is portrayed as sexually and comically. Some are portrayed in a number of movies including criminal movies. However, not all romantic films have completely shifted to comedy and sex. Some have maintained the original conserved way of portraying love. An example is the 2016 Hollywood films “Me Before You,” which told a love story using tragedy and drama. Like other films, the movie ended with the main characters getting into a romantic relationship. In this regard, the original meanings of romantic films have been maintained despite the variance in the way in which love is portrayed. Different countries are, however, barred by culture and beliefs in their portrayal of romance in films. The United States, South Korea, and India have different ways of portraying romance in their films. Therefore, this study is focused on the portrayal of romance in these three countries to understand whether the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost in the 21st century.
The scope of the Study
The current study compares how the genre of romance is portrayed in three countries, the U.S., South Korea, and India, to investigate whether the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost in the 21st century. The rationale for choosing the three countries lies in their importance in the evolution of film over the past centuries. This evolution will also be contextualized in each chapter. In this regard, the first chapter will focus on the historical origins and the evolution of romance films. It will focus on how romance films have evolved over the past centuries and how this evolution has influenced the modern-era romance films. Further, the study explores the cinematography and sub-genres of romance and how they influence modern romance films in three different countries. The sub-genres include chick flip, romantic comedy, romantic drama, and romantic fantasies. The second chapter focuses on how the genre has transformed the film industry in the three countries and the last chapter recalls how cultural changes and perceptions have modified the way films are produced in modern society.
Historical Origins of Romance Films
Romance films have been in existence for since the 19th century. The original meaning of romance genre is that the plot centers on the theme of love or love between the main characters as they endure the challenges of love. This aspect of romance films was first explored in the year 1896 when a short film, 20-second long, referred to as The Mary Irwin Kiss became the most popular film of the time (Sorlin 1980, p.15). The film showed a couple of kisses. The film was recreated from the two well-known stage actors’ performance in the hit Broadway play known as The Widow Jories. At the time, it was considered scandalous to see two people kiss and the image magnified on television. However, the film changed the whole perspective of romance film. From a genre that was considered untouchable due to the cultural beliefs of the immorality of public kissing to a loved genre, romance films became more and more desired by audiences around the world. Therefore, the evolution of romance films started with a 20-second film that showed a couple kissing and romancing in public.
Ideally, a film in the 19th century was not as long as they are today. For instance, The Mary Irwin Kiss was 20 seconds long and was created by Thomas Edison. The film was filmed in Black Maria Studio, Edison’s studio, in Orange House, New Jersey. The scene was filmed for a New York Stage Comedy at the request of a New York World newspaper. In short, romantic films originated in America before spreading to different parts of the globe (Blum 1953, p.101). During this time, movies were not popular in America and the world. The short film brought romance into the screens and demonstrated the potential of a romance genre. In 1919, “Different from the Others” was released as a romance film (Sorlin 1980, p.18). Compared to the previous film in 1896, “Different from Others” address fundamental romance issue at the time: homosexuality. The film was released during World War I by Richard Oswald in partnership with Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, a “Sexologist.” Essentially, the film demonstrated the boldness of film producers. They were willing to tackle contentious romance issues through film. In this regard, it showed the slow evolution of romance films.
The subsequent years after World War I saw a massive evolution of romance genre in film. As opposed to the focus on sexuality that was portrayed in “Different from the Others,” romance now focused on love and tragedy. For instance, in 1939, Gone with the Wind” was released featuring love and drama. The focus on these two themes demonstrated a shift in tone in romantic films. In 1996, two popular films were released with the themes of love, drama, and tragedy. The film “Jane Eyre” focused on love and drama because of the chaos surrounding the person Jane fell in love with. Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” combined all the elements: love, drama, and tragedy to tell the story of love (Sorlin 1980, p.25). To this point, romance films had seen a tremendous change in tone about romance films. The tone was carried on to 1997 when the famous “Titanic” was released. The film mainly featured true love and tragic loss. Jack Dawson, played by Leonardo DiCaprio and Rose DeWitt, played by Kate Winslet, had a love relationship that ended tragically. The two were from different economic and social classes: Jack was from a lower social class while Rose was from a higher social class. At the time the film was set, these kinds of relationships were not allowed. People married from the same social classes. In this regard, their love story demonstrated the theme of true love and showed how romance films have evolved.
In all these movies, one element remains constant: love is always the main theme — the stories revolved around the emotions, feelings, and affection between the main characters, the challenges they undergo to test the strength of their love and how they demonstrate this love to each other (Rosenstone 2014, p.71). Modern romance films have been influenced by this approach to romance films. Even though sex has taken center stage in many romance films, tragedy, drama, and love still play an important part. For example, “Me Before You” was a romance film about a disabled man who falls in love with his caregiver. Despite the hostile treatment the caregiver underwent, she still managed to show her emotions and affection towards the disabled man. The story is influenced by 20th-century romance films, which demonstrated that love could come from unlikely places. In this regard, modern romance films have revolutionized, but are still influenced by 20th-century love stories. The themes have remained the same.
Cinematography and Sub-Genres in Romance Films
Romance in films has drastically changed over the years. Today, all romance movies include sub-genres, including comedy, drama, thriller and chick flick. All movies focus on at least one of these sub-genres to tell love stories. For instance, in the U.S., chick flick has gained massive popularity among viewers. In this regard, it is important to understand what these sub-genres focus on, the historical perspective of each genre and how they differ.
Chick flick sub-genre was first introduced in romance film in the 1980s. The term is related to romance films. However, the central theme in this sub-genre is not necessarily romanced. In most cases, films of this sub-genre often target women audiences. They mainly discuss issues affecting women, and the casts are predominantly women. In the 1980s, the subgenre was developed to discuss issues that women faced (Virdi 2003, p.47). One of these issues was male-domination. It was a time when females found it hard to cope with the male-dominated society. For instance, most film protagonists were male, and this created a gender imbalance which needed to be addressed. In this regard, chick flick was developed to cast women as protagonists. A good example of romance films with chick flick as sub-genre was Romeo and Juliet. Juliet was cast as the protagonist and the center of attention of all women. Apart from telling a love story, the film sought to demonstrate the power of women and what women meant in society. Therefore, it mainly targeted the female audience.
In modern society, the portrayal of women has changed. The issues women deal with today are different from what they dealt with in the 1980s. For example, as opposed to the 1980s, young girls today deal with the constant pressure of maintaining their body image. Most chick flick films focus on this aspect of women issues. In America, body image has been extremely valued in films. An example is the TV show “Friends” which first aired in 1994. Even though the show’s plot revolves around the six main characters and their daily lives as friends, one of the major themes is body image (Blum 1953, p.56). The women in the show constantly deal with the pressure of maintaining their body image to remain attractive. Ideally, these are issues that romance film in America deals within modern society. In South Korea, most romance films revolve around motherhood and family. Chick flick sub-genres mainly portray women in the context of motherhood. Compared to the United States, chick flicks in South Korea focus on completely different issues.
Similarly, Indian chick flicks also focus on different women issues. In the late 1990s, Indian women were portrayed in chick flick movies as submissive. Their roles were mainly associated with the domestic setting. However, the modern evolution of romance films has seen the industry change the way they portray women (Virdi 2003, p.103). In chick flicks, Indian women are portrayed as confident, independent and career oriented. The issues they deal with and discuss in these films are mainly associated with these aspects of their lives. In this regard, chick flicks have evolved over the past few years mainly because of the change in society. Because these shows target women audiences by discussing issues that affect their lives, the portrayal of women has changed from the submissive types to confident and independent, in the case of India. In South Korea, most films still portray women in the context of motherhood: how some women are wise mothers. Lastly, in America, the issues young women deal with are also the focus on modern chick flicks. Issues of body image take center stage in most of these films. Therefore, the evolution of chick flicks in all three countries is evident.
A romantic comedy in its most includes films that use comic elements to tell love stories. The comic in this sense refers to the mood created by the movie and not the plot. In most cases, the plot always sticks to the fundamental aspects of romantic films which are love, tragedies, and drama. However, the delivery of the themes of the films is always meant to create a mood of comedy. Ideally, the vast majority of romantic films have happy endings such as an ending in marriage between the main characters. The happy endings do not necessarily mean the films are romantic comedies (Kroeber, Marquez and Wells 1988, p.99). The various obstacles experienced in the love stories typically triggers the humor in the films, especially the misunderstandings or miscommunications between characters. In this regard, the dialogue is an essential part of romantic comedies.
There are four distinct subgenres of romantic comedy films: romantic farce, comedy proper, relationship story and screwball comedy. The definition of each subgenre depends on how romance, love, and marriage are depicted. For example, in America, the film “Pretty Women” mainly focuses on the body image of women and how they perceive themselves. Equally, “Maid in Manhattan” also revolves around love and romance as well as body image. Most of these films in America contain strong language, sex scenes, and sexual references. However, in South Korea, film portrayals are more conserved. The portrayal of women is mainly in the context of motherhood and is targeted at mature audiences, mainly from 30 years. India is also conserved when it comes to demonstrating love through sex scenes. Women are portrayed as confident and independent. In short, romantic comedies in the three countries are portrayed differently.
Romantic Drama film explores the most complicated aspects of love. The plot usually revolves around the challenges faced by two characters in the quest to be together. The challenges can range from disapproval from family to forbidden love or psychological restraints. Most Romantic Dramas’ ending sees the character separate because of these challenges or the realization of incompatibility. The conclusion of these films does not demonstrate whether a last union of the two main characters will occur. Examples include “Titanic” where the difference in social class between Rose and Jack was the main obstacle in their love story. Essentially, the theme and portrayal of characters in this sub-genre are the same in all three countries. Romantic dramas in all the three countries focus on obstacles, and these obstacles can be similar. However, in South Korea, cultural differences can be an obstacle- this is not always the case. Therefore, a romantic drama also focuses on the theme of love and the challenges main characters go through to fight for their love.
Normally, romantic dramas involve creating suspense among the audience. The viewers are treated to various challenges and obstacles that make them connect to the characters. For instance, in “Titanic,” Jack and Rose were genuinely in love. However, Rose’s parents were opposed to the relationship because Jack was not in the same social class as them. During the time the film was set, classes were essential in relationships. People either married those in the same social class as them or those in the upper social and economic class. Creating these obstacles in a film enable the audiences to connect with the characters emotionally. They begin by sympathizing with the characters. The viewers adored Jack because of his persistence to be together with the person his lover. Rose was also persistent. Through their situation, the audience could see how emotionally they were connected, which is associated with true love. In other words, romantic dramas create these challenges and obstacles to demonstrate how emotionally connected the characters are and the extent they must go to ensure they overcome these obstacles. However, most of these romantic dramas end with the characters separated, either because they have failed to overcome the obstacles or by fate. Therefore, the obstacles distinguish the dramas from other genres.
The cinematography is an essential part in romantic films. It mainly comprises camerawork and photography in filmmaking. Different shots assist in establishing the setting, but most importantly showcase emotions. The most shots that are commonly used in romantic films are over the shoulder shot, close-up shot, mid-shot, in a long shot, and extremely long shot. The use of different shots in a film engages the audience by emotionally connecting them to the love story. The physical features captured when taking the shots help the audience connect with the characters and the setting. The common shots used in films include the following:
The over-the-shoulder shot.
It is commonly used in romantic films to show the viewer the facial expressions of the character while having a conversation (Hines 1997, p.67). The over-the-shoulder shot creates a connection between the characters and provides the mood of their current situation. The figure below shows an image of an over-the-shoulder shot. The picture was obtained from the South Korean film “Mood of the Day.”
Close-up shot lets the audience see a detailed view of the characters’ facial expressions. The close-up shot is also common in romantic movies because of its usefulness in establishing feelings between the characters as well as create a mood. For example, sadness, happiness, anger or enthusiasm may be efficiently reflected in a close-up shot. Particularly, in a romantic comedy, it can be used to show if one of the characters is rejected, hurt or in love by showing their facial expressions and body language. The image below shows a close-up shot obtained from American film “Blended.”
Mid-shot shows the characters’ body languages. The shot normally shows half of the body of characters, mainly focusing on the upper side – facial expressions are also targeted (Roack 1983, p.51). It helps in understanding a connection between characters and the expression of their feelings. The image below shows a Mid-shot obtained from South Korean “Mood of the Day.”
The shot shows the whole body of the characters together with their surroundings. It mainly shows the audience the location of the character to understand their setting. The shot can also be used to distinguish if the characters are close or distant from each other. The image below shows in-a-long shot obtained from Indian film “Dilwale.”
Extremely long shot
An extreme long shot is normally shown at the start of a new scene. The intention is to provide the viewer with the context of the setting of the next scene- where the characters are located. It rarely focuses on the characters; it mainly focuses on the setting. The image below shows an extremely long shot obtained from South Korea’s “Mood of the Day.”
The question of whether the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost in the 21st century has raised controversies. As modernity takes over the traditional society, new film elements have emerged that suggest romance genre is slowly evolving. The radical changes in motherhood, marriage, employment, and self-image of different societies in the 21st century reveal that the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost because it is no longer possible to build the same connotations of the female characters as was evident in the past. For instance, Fausto-Sterling (2000, p.47) states that “in the past, cinematic romance exhibited a dominant male who had control over a submissive female.” In ancient societies, women were deemed inferior to men, as roles were clearly defined across the gender lines. Thus, it was possible for the dominant male to use his masculinity to seduce and manipulate a submissive female. This gave the cinematic romance a lot of glimmer to the male audience. It appealed to the male audience by endorsing their masculinity over the female gender.
However, the emergence of feminist movements and its popularisation in the 1980s empowered women, making them independent and confident. This destroyed the novelty of romance because of the challenge in assuming the same gender roles as portrayed in ancient romance films. For example, modern American films have shifted away from portraying women as inferior and submissive to men to women that have the power to make their own decisions, and choose whoever they want to have relations with. Similarly, Indian women have become independent and confident in their romantic films. South Korean women also focus on their role as mothers as opposed to their roles as wives. In essence, modernity has changed the way films portray women. Therefore, the novelty of cinematic romances has been destroyed in the 21st-century romance films.
Drawing conclusions from the United States, there are several indications that the novelty of the cinematic romance has declined in the 21st century. Marriage and sex are some of the elements that characterized the cinematic romance films of the past. According to de Beauvoir (1956), “a man acted as the provider in the marriage with the role of the women being reduced to childbearing and taking care of the homestead.” However, the current American society has exemplified the role of women. Particularly, women are holding stable and high achieving jobs just as their male counterparts. The employment has, in turn, shifted the position of women in society. According to a report published by the Chicago Tribune Newspapers, fewer Americans are getting married in the 21st century than before (Stevens, 2014). The report established that one in every five adult Americans aged 25 years has not married, which amounts to 42 million of the population. This is in contrast to the 1960s where just one in every ten adults aged 25 years had not married. Currently, the American women are more empowered and have attained professional independence which they lacked in the past. For instance, in the film “Monalisa Smile,” Betty decides to become independent and join law school after finding out Spencer had an affair with another woman. The film portrays women as empowered and able to make their own decisions. Consequently, the novelty of the cinematic romance films which portrayed women as inferior beings in society is being weakened.
In the cinematic romance films of the past, women were shown as vulnerable beings who would easily be tricked into sexual engagement by their male counterparts. The submissiveness and naivety of women were evident as some easily believed their partners only to be abandoned at the climax of events. These episodes gave a lot of novelty to the cinematic romance films. However, Krook and Mackay (2011) note that the 21st-century woman is a rational thinker. They can make decisions for themselves and determine what is right for them rather that foaling into gendered identities. In some of the American films such as ‘Wonder Woman’ which was released in 2017, a female is a lead character, indicating the shifting position of women. Consequently, their self-image has improved and the women have an identity to protect and uphold. For instance, women now considered themselves equally up to the task held by men. They can do the things men used to do to express their superiority such as have several lovers. In Monalisa Smile, Levy has many lovers and has liberal views about sex. Men were always in these positions and were considered womanizers. Therefore, the roles have changed, and the portrayal of romance has evolved over the last few years, which demonstrates how novelty in romance has been lost in the 21st century.
Furthermore, the Indian society has also demonstrated why the novelty in the cinematic romance is no longer a formula in the 21st century. In most of the old Indian films, women have been portrayed as sex objects through their seductive styles (see figure below). Mira Nair- Fire is one particular filmmaker that has exemplified this art is Shobha De’s. As an Indian writer, she shows her character’s desire for sex (Mishra, 2012). On the other hand, the men are deriving pleasure by mistreating the women. However, this representation of women by Shobha is an acknowledgment of the traditional women where they were subjected to a patriarchal system that did not allow them to achieve the same goals in life and pursue their sexual life as they wish. In the new era, Shobha acknowledges the fact that women cannot shy away from talking about their sexual rights. This sharply differs from the past when women rights and the voice on matters on sexuality in the Indian society were ignored.
Regarding marriage and motherhood, statistics show changes in the role of women in such institutions. According to statistics by the World Bank, the number of women attaining higher education doubled between 1994 and 2010 (Fletcher, Pande, and Moore, 2017). Consequently, this has changed their role in marriage and motherhood. The report highlights that more Indian women are concentrating on school and career growth than before. This has limited the number that is entering in marriages than the past. According to Fletcher, Pande, and Moore (2017), the Indian woman is now empowered and can make decisions at the household level. Also, the author notes that there has been an increase in the employment of women in the last decade by 10 percent. The changes in the focus on marriage and employment have greatly shaped the role of the Indian women. Given these developments, the novelty of romance which portrays women as sexual objects has significantly shifted.
In South Korea, the disclosure of women bodies has been for a long time employed in films and reality television shows. K-Beauty is among the most famous buzzwords that describe the Korean woman makeup trends and skin care. With high regard for flawless skin, the Korean woman has only been defined the role of a beauty queen with a majority believing that South Korea has the most beautiful women on earth. This was highly captured in old Korean films which only feature gorgeous women – physically attractive features. According to the filmmakers, beauty must be maintained all the time to please men Frith (2014). This shows that at least 20 percent of women between the ages of 19 to 49 have undergone surgical procedures to make them look good, which is similar to the Indian woman. They are fascinated by the Korean film stars who set the standards of how women look. The emphasis on beauty by the Korean films puts pressure on the women. It teaches them that they have to look good. Besides, there are varying misrepresentations of the South Korean with the women being portrayed as sexual objects that allowed men to take advantage of them. For example, “A Moment to Remember” shows how Su-Jin, the main character, is subjected to the relationship of sex. The film, together with other films, is a form of the subjectivity of the female gender through the film which was used to give novelty to cinematic romance.
Although meaningful change is yet to be achieved in the way South Korean films represent women, there has been some progress in recognizing the role of women. In contemporary South Korea, women have more flexibility within their marriage roles aside from motherhood. This includes being employed, social, socializing and making decisions within the marriage dynamics. The situation began to change towards the end of the 20th century when the government stepped up initiatives to eliminate the discriminatory practices. For example, the Equal Employment Act that was passed in 1987 allowed women to attain jobs and promotion opportunities (“Women’s Role in Contemporary Korea”). By 1998, 12.6 percent of women were serving in professional positions in various occupations. This change of status of women allowed them to engage in multiple activities including having a voice in marriage and parenthood. Consequently, the modern South Korean woman is outgoing and has a voice in marriage. This has allowed the emergence of female filmmakers such as Lee Kyoung-mi who was named the best director in the Korean film industry in 2017. The women have been able to fight for their rights in marriage and motherhood. The empowerment of these women has enabled them to have a positive self-image that is based on knowledge rather than beauty. Consequently, the novelty of the cinematic romance in Korean films has been shaped by the new status which women are assigned.
Finally, in the 21st century, there has been a more significant role of women in marriage which has dissolved the traditional portrayal of women in film as sexual objects, subject to manipulation. Women take an active role in society and have acquired employment and improved self-image. The identified countries of the USA, India and South Korea have shown why women are no longer inferior beings as much as the film portrays them. Therefore, the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost as women continue to take an active role in society.
The stage for romance performance has evolved to the cinema and now to personalize home viewing on powerful streaming platforms like Netflix. The subject of Romance in films has changed over the years. The “Romeo and Juliet” stories were the definition of cinema in previous centuries. People wanted to see romance in movies (motion pictures at that time). However, there has been a difference in ways of portraying films. Directors have opted to change the main themes in their movies swiftly since the early 2000s, and one of these changes is on the reduction of romance in cinema. In essence, there has been a unique way of presenting the films. Looking at these films, the theme was of a fairy tale love where the couples would end up living “happy after that” (Eco 1985, p. 4). Animations such as Disney were used to change the genres and bring out the theme of love. The theme was significant in making these films attract a huge audience, and this is attributed to the fact that society in general, highly respected, valued and popularized love, with many people associating it with them. The perfect love presentation in films was, however, becoming tiresome to the viewers because all angles of love had been already covered, such as tragic love and drama amidst the drama.
Worth noting was that the “perfect love” case was becoming more difficult for the directors because it limited their creativity and therefore opted to take a risky change of focusing on another presentation of romance. The tragic romance was the other theme adopted by the directors, and this is perhaps the theme which was being adopted by the directors in the mid and late 20th century (Eco, 1985, p.8). Tragic romance represented an imperfect love or relationship. There was an element of tragedy that was introduced in the romance but was defeated by the power of “love.” These films managed to receive a large acceptance in the market because it was a new aspect of the presentation displayed. The risk that had been taken by the directors had started paying off. Many films of this theme managed to get many views due to the “perfect” display of romance and examples include “Titanic” and “Four Weddings and a funeral.” The romance films were also there in America and British as well as in England.
Although directors and scriptwriters can be blamed for changing the themes in movies by replacing romantic ideas with other topics such as thriller, horror, and sci-fi, there is a need for looking at the issue on a different context. Directors are not there for the production of films alone but production of films that will make sales. The creation of movies has ended up being very expensive, and the success of the director will be defined by the number of sales the movie will make and this also determines the possibility of the director to get another production budget (Konova, 2018, p.4). Therefore, it should be noted that modern-day films are for a commercial purpose and hence the aim of films is more of meeting the consumer needs of the viewers (Wasko, Phillips and Purdie 1993, p. 277). However, it is surprising that romantic movies, despite not requiring graphics and other expensive production tools are expensive. This is mainly because of the lengths directors go to tell love stories. For example, “Titanic” is one of the greatest love stories. It had one of the biggest budgets because of the lengths directors went to tell the story.
The films post-2014 aim at ensuring the ideals of the audience are considered, and the people need to associate with what is communicated by the actors. Themes of romance have become less popular, especially to the female viewers. The attitudes towards love and romance have changed making the theme of loveless popular. There has been a growing demand and appeals for women empowerment and feminism movement resulting in a change in the presentation of romance as it was being presented in the previous centuries. With the situation, directors are trying as much as possible to avoid the controversies that may come along with the discrimination of women through the themes of romance (Dyhouse 2015, p. 45). It is becoming challenging to present this theme without stepping on the subject of feminism which some males in charge of production are not in a good position to handle with discretion.
The mode through which films are appearing in the 21st century describes the degree upon which romance has ceased to exist in the modern-day film. Previously, films were appreciated by going to the cinema and also through the use of open theatres. These avenues were very convenient for romantic movies as it was the place lovers opted to go for dates (Mattias 2016, p. 1). This notion has ended up changing in the 21st century where people use cinemas as a place they go to watch thriller films and other movies. This is because the perception surrounding romance has changed. People now associate it with the ambiance of a comfortable space such as a home interior. People prefer going to see action films rather than romance; hence the novelty of cinematic romance is on the decline. The culture of going to the cinema has declined in the three countries. People watch films by streaming services and subscriptions. These cultural changes have led to an analysis in observing patterns in people when it comes to the type of films that they prefer to view. There are many avenues through which one can access these films through streaming. The prime examples of these are Netflix and Amazon Prime.
Netflix is a company which provides digitalized media content through its Netflix streaming services. Through the service, the company can distribute and make available most of the media content a person would wish to watch. The service gives its customers an opportunity to view a wide range of media content online internationally except some few regions like China (Gandiya 2018, par. 3). The material ranges from best television programs and documentaries, movies and other library films. The company also from 2012 has started to produce its content with the first series, Lilyhammer (Gandiya 2018, par. 5). The service offers continuers streaming without commercial interference, and one can download the content through the Netflix app to watch later. To access the content, people choose for a payment plan which matches with their interest depending on the quantity and quality of content.
Netflix has revolutionized the film industry from watching only the media content either accessible on the cinema, DVD shop or TV to viewing any content at any time. It has applied the video on demand strategy where one can stream any content without relying on the limited movies and documentaries on TV. With this strategy, people are watching the material with the theme which best attracts them other than relaying to one type of film theme presented on the cinema or TV. People have now developed an interest in different subjects of films since it is available on Netflix library. Also, Netflix has started to produce its content with a specific taste for a particular target audience (Gandiya 2018, par. 7). It has pushed the film industry to produce tailor-made contents for different categories of people. The strategy has made people shift from the theme of romance to the theme of what they come across in their daily activities like science fiction since it is available.
Netflix is creating a path to the future where nobody will have time to buy a DVD, wait for a TV program or visit a cinema to watch a film but will use the fast-growing internet technology to access it. Also, people are moving towards watching real-time content, live interactive TV broadcast other than a two-month film (Lugmayr, Niiranen, and Kalli 2013, p. 1). Netflix is creating a platform where people can stream directly from their library any content at any time in the future. The platform will be easy to give people live-streamed films, news, sports, and even documentaries. The direction which Netflix is taking leads adoption of the digital TV which will integrate the analog TV to have customers with more freedom on interactive digital TV (Lugmayr, Niiranen, and Kalli 2013, p. 1).
Through this mode of delivery, it has become possible to determine the highest selling films through streaming, and Netflix is the primary seller streaming services. It is worth noting that Netflix has sold many copies of romantic films over the last few years and perfect examples include “Meet the Patels,” Tramps,” “Blue Jay” and even “Napply Never After” released in 2018. It is only the “To All Boys I’ve Loved” that appears to be among the bestselling films in on Netflix with movies on other genres appearing to sell more (Bailey 2018. p, 1). This situation shows a picture of the changed attitudes and preference of the films that people prefer.
Netflix still offers romantic films in its library despite the taste for the theme shifting to thriller. The library still has the old time romantic moves dull and cynical. Also, it offers the contemporary dramas of love and relationship stories and classics ones like Three Coins in a Fountain suitable for anyone who still maintains a taste for romantic films. Romantic movies dominate the film industry as they have been from the past although thriller movies are invading them. However, even with the contemporary action and science fiction movies, they still contain elements of romance to attract more audience of different categories.
Most of the romantic movies have been using women to drive the theme of love. The idea of women in films has attracted women to watch movies more than men. According to Pardo and Etayo (2014, p. 8), 53.7% of women are reported to like films on television compared to 47.8 % of men while 51.1 % women like watching movies on DVD compared to 44.3% of men. The study also indicates that women prefer watching series movies on internet or TV as compared to men who prefer going to the cinemas (Pardo and Etayo 2014, p. 8). Since one cannot visit cinemas always, a woman becomes more attracted to movies because of their availability. With the shifting trend towards online streaming, it is likely that women will even become more attracted to films more than men. The higher number of women watching films has been associated with their presentation on the romantic films which have for many years taken the film industry. The movies are seen to represent them and their strength them before they move to other fields like the case of Julia Roberts (VanDerWerff 2018, par. 15).
Lastly, with move shifting towards the reality TV show, subtitles are becoming common due to minimized dialogue (Lugmayr, Niiranen, and Kalli 2013, p. 1). They are used to heighten understanding of the content by all audience regardless of whether they understand the language or have a hearing impairment. Most movies have subtitles to engage the audience. The subtitles translate the language being used in a film to a more widely recognized language. They help to glue and attract the viewers who could have otherwise switched because of the language. The subtitles also help those with hearing impairment to follow the dialogue in the film. Also, the captions make a person glued on the film to read the titles. They try to make the audience understand the film. They make the movie live assuming integration of the audience.
Romantic films have evolved over the years. The major factor attributed to this evolution is the change in perception within society and the different women’s movements. The three countries, the U.S., South Korea, and India have all experienced this shift. In the U.S., the focus has changed from male-domination to issues of body image. In South Korea, the focus has shifted to motherhood, and in India, the women have become more independent and confident. All these have transformed the directions romantic films take in modern society. Further, cultural changes in society have influenced the production of films — cultures impact on people’s perception and their movie preferences. Stories now rely on what appeals to the audience. For example, in America, chick flicks now focus on talking about the issues affecting women. To connect to a younger audience, body image has become one of the most talked about topic in chick flicks in America. This is because the preferences of women have changed. The issues that affected them in the 19th and 20th centuries are different from what affects them now. Women in the 20th century were dealing with male-domination. In modern society, this is no longer the issue because women have become independent and confident. In this regard, the novelty of cinematic romance has been lost in the 21st century.
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