Conventions in Disaster Movies

Although I have done a page about my article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” and I have done many posts (linked from that page) about disaster movies analysed for that article, as well as some additional disaster movies, in which I refer to the Conventions in Disaster Movies that I developed in that article, I have not yet done a post that provides a list of these conventions. This post does that.

A1. Pillars of Truth
2. Mood of dread/threat
3. Primarily impacts nationality of narrative makers
4. Image of disaster
5. Dominance of male characters
6. Mini-victories
7. Family
8. Suffering Protagonists
9. Cross section of society represented
10. Savagery but optimism
11. Death of main character
12. No distancing in time (may not apply to historical narratives)
B13. Conflict between characters, but unite against disaster
14. Panic
15. Isolation
C16. Show dead bodies
17. Contemporary significance
Based upon Table 2 in “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?” (2020: p.196).

Conventions in Group A were found in at least 60% of both English-language and Japanese-language disaster movies; those in Group B were found in at least 60% of English-language movies, but less than 60% of Japanese-language ones; those in Group C were found in less than 60% of English-language movies but at least 60% of Japanese-language ones.

For a full discussion on and explanation of these conventions, see the article “Disaster Narratives by Design: Is Japan Different?

The research for the article has also helped me to develop two other publications, which I will post about in due course, and an online lecture ‘Japanese Disaster Narratives: Conservatism and Revisionism‘.

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