The action film (from English action : deed, action, movement) is a film genre of entertainment cinema in which the progression of the external plot is driven forward and illustrated by mostly spectacularly staged fighting and violence scenes . It is more about stimulating actions than contextual connections, empathic experience of the protagonists' emotional world or artistic and aesthetic visual worlds. The main components of action films are therefore mostly lavishly filmed stunts , close combat scenes, shootings , explosions andChases .
Action film has been an independent film genre since the 1960s, but its conventions have been known since the beginning of film history. Artists from the vaudeville like Buster Keaton let their skills in artistic movement in connection with trick technology flow into their filmmaking.
Action film as a genre of its own has its origins in crime films , in which action and the explicit representation of physical violence became increasingly important in the 1950s, for example in Stanley Kubrick's The Calculation Did Not Work (1956). In The Invisible Third (1959), Alfred Hitchcock presented a closed cinematic world for the first time, which exclusively serves as a challenge for the main character's physical action. This concept of the closed action world, which exists purely for exercising body acrobatics and for demonstrating the spectacular use of force, was continued in the films of the James Bond series and in television series such as Cobra, Take Over .
This tendency towards illusion, which is far removed from realistic portrayal and moral valuation, is opposed by the directors of the New Hollywood movement , who staged action and violence in an open form. They reacted to social and political developments such as the protest movement and the Vietnam War and sought the context of the presentation on questions of morality, such as the consequences of the use of force on the human body. Examples of this more realistic and sobering approach are Arthur Penn's Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and Sam Peckinpah's The Wild Bunch - They Knew No Law (1969).
High phase 1970–1990s
An era of overemphasis on physical strength and the cult of the body in action films began with the Bruce Lee films. Stylistic devices such as slow motion and sound alienation led to the development and definition of the subgenre of martial arts film . In the 1980s, the action film dominated the mainstream cinema with stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone , through bodybuilding led the cult of the body to a climax. In addition to a few humorous films such as Indiana Jones , mostly reactionary topics such as revenge fantasies and the stereotypical construction of enemy images dominated the action cinema.
In the 1990s, the genre became increasingly ironic and self-mirrored, for example in films like Last Action Hero ( John McTiernan , 1993) and True Lies ( James Cameron , 1994). McTiernan's Die Hard series (1988 to 2013) also broke ironically with the hero image of the action film and let its protagonist, portrayed by Bruce Willis , demystified as anyone capable of suffering, triumph over evil. Stars like Jackie Chan appropriated the stunt as part of the artistic performance and drew part of their popularity from the fact that even dangerous action was always done by themselves. With The Rock or Con Air , relatively demanding works were created for the action genre, which stood out from the emerging direct-to-video cheap trend.
In addition, from the mid-1990s, elaborate digital special effects and stunts became more important than simple fights and exchanges of fire. B. in the Mission Impossible series with Tom Cruise or xXx - Triple X with Vin Diesel . Many elements of the action film have been in the late 1970s with the Star Wars commencing the first trilogy of Star Wars also, and to a lesser extent Star Trek into the Science Fiction adopted. From 2000 the superhero film became popular again, which was produced by the Batman reboot or Marvel's Avengers , which were produced with enormous amounts of animation and financial means. By the 2010s at the latest, classic action films largely disappeared from the cinema as blockbusters, and sequels such as Die Hard 5 or based on films such as White House Down were only moderately successful. An exception is e.g. The Expendables trilogy, for example , was staged as a kind of homage as an ensemble film around the popular actors Schwarzenegger, Stallone, Willis, Jason Statham , Dolph Lundgren and others .
Female main characters were up to the late 1990s, rare, but one exception was that of Sigourney Weaver embodied Ellen Ripley of the Alien series and that of Linda Hamilton portrayed Sarah Connor in Terminator is. This was followed by Brigitte Nielsen ( Red Sonja ), Kate Beckinsale ( Underworld ), Uma Thurman ( Kill Bill ), Michelle Rodriguez ( SWAT - The Special Unit ) or Halle Berry ( Catwoman ), who mostly acted side by side with a male film partner. With Wonder Woman ( Gal Gadot ) or Rogue One ( Felicity Jones ) further heroines were created.
Motifs and forms of representation
The movement, the basic motif of the film, is primarily used for show purposes in action films and has less narrative functions. Often in the action film, closed sequence units are lined up like a number revue , which serve to display the most varied of movement-driven conflict or duel situations, such as shootouts , chases, body fights or explosions. The subjects of the action are often chasing vehicles, especially in American action films, for example in Focal Point Brooklyn ( William Friedkin , 1971), Bullitt ( Peter Yates , 1968) or Dirty Harry ( Don Siegel , 1971). The depicted violence is often taken from reality in a way that is unrealistic. Cinematic means such as convergence montage and parallel montage structure these numbers, for example to resolve an arc of tension in a last-minute rescue .
The plots are mostly about the struggle between good and bad, the identification figure is often a physically strong male hero (or a female heroine, see for example Lara Croft ), who usually represents clear moral principles that are ethical and correspond to the ideological foundations of western culture (good versus evil, protecting the weak, justice, atonement for injustice suffered, defense and preservation of the familiar way of life, etc.). Frequently flowing narrative elements from related genres into the action movie, including some from the adventure film , the war film , the thriller , the psychological thriller , the horror film and the science fiction film .
- Slack 90s: Action heroes in crisis - essay (5 pages) film-zeit.de , Ines Walk from January 10, 2010