We commonly consider films in terms of their genre - the set of characteristics that distinguish, say, a Western from a Comedy or a Thriller. We recognise genres by their narratives or their themes, but also by their iconography, characters and certain stylistic elements (for example, lighting, camera style). As audiences, we enjoy the repetition of the familiar, but also the injection of novelty and change to familiar forms.
British cinema, like other national cinemas, has favoured some genres over others - for obvious reasons, there have been few British Westerns - and has put its own distinctive spin on existing genres and invented new ones of its own. Some genres have evolved from the earliest days of film: many film Comedies have their roots in the slapstick or chase films of the silent period, while Britain's celebrated Documentary tradition has origins in early 'Actuality' films from the 1890s on, although it arguably came of age in the 1930s.
The character of British takes on genre often predate cinema - Social Realism (not exactly a genre, but such a dominant influence in Britain that it might be considered one) continues a tradition found in the literature of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy, among others...
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