"The adventure genre is almost a magical film style."

graphic for adventure genre page

Let's face it, the Adventure Genre is very similar to the Action Genre. You could almost consider adventure to be a sub-genre of action, but for our purposes let's simply agree that adventure is it's own sovereign film genre.

Adventure films are built from stories which are exciting and interesting. Filled with action, the focus is not always on violence or fighting as in the action genre. (these do occur in adventure however) With adventure the emphasis is more towards the thrill of journeying, discovering and exploration.

The adventure genre shares many features of other film genres. As many genres, sub-hybrids are created, making for some very interesting films. Sub-hybrids such as science-fiction-adventure, war-adventure, fantasy-adventure or even comedy-adventure come naturally to this movie style.

Even though there are quite a few sub-genres within adventure as a whole, an utterly fantastic example of a modern adventure film would have to be 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark with another favorite actor of mine, Harrison Ford. Produced and directed by George Lucas and Steven Spielberg, this movie simply personifies the very best aspects of the adventure genre. It has action filled sequences, exotic journeys to faraway lands, daring escapes, as well as the pursuit of an ongoing quest or "higher calling".

So where does this film style get it's start? The short answer would be Saturday Afternoon Serials, or Chapter Plays. And as Kathy Bates and James Caan so passionately discuss in Stephen King's classic, Misery (1990), theatrical serials almost ALWAYS involved the age old marketing ploy (still well in use today...) of "cliff-hangers". This was purposefully setting up irresistible action plot points that were NOT resolved until NEXT WEEK, forcing the audience members to covet a seat in the theater once again. (and obviously generating more revenue for filmmakers and theater proprietors) The term itself literally describes a situation where a speeding car careens over the cliff while the audience is breathlessly denied the final outcome until the fated, "next time". It's interesting how "next time" always seemed to involve another price of admission to the theater.

One of the first and most legendary adventure film stars would be Douglass Fairbanks, Sr. He worked during the 1920's and did most of his own stunts. He was well known for his daring swordplay, or "swashbuckling". Mr. Fairbanks played classic characters like Zorro, Robin Hood and D'Artagnan of the Three Musketeers.

errol flynn graphic for adventure genre page

Errol Flynn in The Adventures of Robin Hood

Another swashbuckling star who actually took the reigns from Douglass Fairbanks would be Errol Flynn. Errol is most famous for his wonderful portrayal of Robin Hood in The Adventures of Robin Hood (1938). This was the first technicolor Robin produced with sound.

Here are some other noteworthy adventure film stars...

Clark Gable
Alan Ladd
Tyrone Power
Cornel Wilde
Burt Lancaster
Sean Connery
Kirk Douglass
John Wayne
Charlton Heston
Harrison Ford

Here are some famous adventure directors...

Cecil B. DeMille
David Lean
Howard Hawks
Zolton Korda
Michael Curtiz
Raoul Walsh
John Huston
Henry Hathaway

The major sub-topics for adventure films are...

The Jungle
Historical Epics
King Arthur
British Empire

Bottom line, the adventure genre creates films that are almost magical to watch. We've all loved our favorite adventure films over the years and I'm sure we'll see more and more of these fun movies produced in the future.

If you've got anything to add to our discussion of this wonderful little film genre, please do. As usual, we've provided a convenient content submission form below for just that purpose.

erik signature for adventure genre page









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