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Thriller film


Thriller film

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The thriller is a broad genre of literature, film, and television that includes numerous, often-overlapping sub-genres. Thrillers are typically characterized by fast pacing, frequent action scenes, and plots in which a small number of resourceful heroes must thwart, often violently, the plans of more-powerful and better-equipped villains. Thrillers typically emphasize plot over character development, and make extensive use of literary devices such as suspense, red herrings, and cliffhangers. They often take place wholly or partly in exotic settings such as foreign cities, deserts, the polar regions, or the high seas. The heroes of modern thrillers are often "hard men" accustomed to danger: law enforcement officers, spies, soldiers, seamen, divers, or pilots. The heroes of earlier thrillers (especially those written before the 1980s) are more likely to be ordinary citizens drawn into dangerous circumstances by accident. They are almost inevitably men, though women are increasingly common as secondary characters.

Thrillers overlap with mystery stories, but are distinguised from mainstream mysteries by the structure of their plots. The thriller hero typically tries to thwart the plans of an enemy whose identity he already knows, rather than discover (after the fact) who is behind a crime already committed. The thriller villains typically plan crimes on the grand scale: serial or mass murder, terrorism, assassination, or the overthrow of governments. Violent confrontations between the hero and the villain, though not uncommon in mystery stories, are standard in thrillers. Similar distinctions separate the thriller genre from others with which it overlaps: adventure, spy, legal, war, and maritime fiction, for example.

Thrillers are, ultimately, defined not by their subject matter but by their approach to it. Many thrillers (for example) involve spies and the business of espionage, but not all spy stories are thrillers. The spy novels of John LeCarre, for example, explicitly and intentionally rejected the conventions of the thriller. Many thriller writers have written novels in related genres that have few or no thriller elements. Alistair MacLean, Hammond Innes, and Brian Callison, for example, are best known for their thrillers but are also accomplished writers of straightforward man-against-nature sea stories.

The following llist of thriller sub-genres that follows gives a sense of the diversity of thriller fiction.


The genre of thrillers includes:

  • spy fiction, sometimes called political thrillers or spy thrillers
  • action thriller
  • techno-thriller
  • conspiracy thriller
  • medical thriller
  • serial killer thriller
  • political thriller
  • psychological thriller
  • military thriller
  • romantic thriller
  • legal thriller, sometimes called courtroom thrillers
  • forensic thriller
  • supernatural thriller


Homer's Odyssey is one of the oldest stories in the Western world and is regarded as an early prototype of the thriller. The hero Odysseus makes a perilous voyage home after the Trojan War, battling extraordinary hardships in order to be reunited with his wife Penelope. He has to contend with villains such as the Cyclops, a one-eyed giant, and the Sirens, whose sweet singing lures sailors to their doom. In most cases, Odysseus uses cunning instead of brute force to overcome his adversaries.

The Count of Monte Cristo is a swashbuckling revenge thriller about a man named Edmond Dantès who is betrayed by his friends and sent to languish in the notorious Château d'If. His only companion is an old man who teaches him everything from philosophy to mathematics to swordplay. Just before the old man dies, he reveals to Dantès the secret location of a great treasure. Shortly after, Dantès engineers a daring escape and uses the treasure to reinvent himself as the Count of Monte Cristo. Thirsting for vengeance, he sets out to punish those who destroyed his life.

Dracula is a gothic supernatural thriller told in the first person (diaries, letters, newspaper clippings). A young Englishman named Jonathan Harker travels to the Carpathian Mountains to meet a client named Count Dracula. But when the Count shows his horrifying true colours, Harker barely escapes with his life. The Count soon arrives in England, bringing with him death and menace. Harker and his terrified friends are forced to turn to Dr. Van Helsing, who uses modern science to battle ancient superstition.

Heart of Darkness is a first-person within a first-person account about a man named Marlowe who travels down the Congo river in search of an enigmatic Belgian trader named Kurtz. Layer by layer, the atrocities of the human soul and man's inhumanity to man are peeled away. Marlowe finds increasingly difficult to tell where civilization ends and where barbarism begins.

The Bourne Identity is one of the first thrillers to be written in the modern style that we know today. A man with gunshot wounds is found floating unconscious in the Mediterranean Sea. Brought ashore and nursed back to health, he wakes up with amnesia. Fiercely determined to uncover the secrets of his past, he embarks on a quest that sends him spiraling into a web of violence and deceit. He is astounded to learn that knowledge of hand-to-hand combat, firearms, and tradecraft seem to come naturally to him.

First Blood is widely considered to be the father of the modern action novel. A young Vietnam veteran, suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, encounters an older sheriff who is a Korean War veteran. When the sheriff tries to drive him out of town, a version of the Vietnam War erupts in the woods, hills, and caves of rural Kentucky. This becomes not only a clash of generations, but also a clash between conventional and guerrilla warfare.

Other examples of the thriller in literature and film include The Hunt for Red October, The Day of the Jackal, The Da Vinci Code, and Jurassic Park. Novelists closely associated with the genre include Robert Ludlum, David Morrell, Frederick Forsyth, Dan Brown, Tom Clancy, Michael Crichton, Ian Fleming, and Alistair MacLean.

24 is a fast-paced television series with a premise inspired by the War on Terror. Each season takes place over the course of twenty-four hours, with each episode happening in "real time". Featuring a split-screen technique and a ticking onscreen clock, 24 follows the exploits of Federal agent Jack Bauer as he races to foil terrorist threats.

The Manchurian Candidate is a classic novel (and two films) of Cold War paranoia. A squad of American soldiers are kidnapped and brainwashed by Communists. False memories are implanted, along with a subconscious trigger that turns them into assassins at a moment's notice. They are soon reintegrated into American society as sleeper agents. One of them, Major Bennett Marco, senses that not all is right, setting him on a collision course with his former comrade Sergeant Raymond Shaw, who is close to being activated as an assassin.

Ronin is a suspenseful tale of conflicting loyalties. A team of post-Cold War mercenaries gather in France to carry out an ambush and steal a mysterious suitcase. The mission goes awry when the group turn on each other. The contents of the suitcase are never revealed but it is something worth killing for.

Other examples of the thriller in movies include: Red Eye, The Hunt for Red October, Psycho, The Thirty-Nine Steps, North by Northwest, In the Line of Fire, The Fugitive, The Silence of the Lambs and Marathon Man.

See also

Home | Up | Action movie | Adventure film | Comedy film | Drama film | Fantasy film | Horror film | Mystery film | Romance film | Thriller film

Movies, v. 2.0, by MultiMedia

This guide is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia.

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