“SMALLVILLE” (2001 to present day) tell the story of the character Clark Kent, who becomes the super hero Superman. “Superman” tells the story of his life in Metropolis, and “Smallville” charts his early life as a teenager, in Smallville, Kansas. Although about the same person, these two texts are very different and this essay will explore these differences through media, genre and music. The medium used in Superman is film, this film was aided greatly by some huge advances in the film industry at the time.
At this point in the 1970’s, televisions were widely available and most families had one and because of this, what was on in the cinemas, had to compete with what was on TV. Dolby sound had just been perfected so there was now no background noise on the film and improved sound quality. The new Panavision allowed the use of a windscreen shot. This feature helped create the huge cityscape, for Superman to fly in. Also new special effects used in such films as Star Wars, paved the way for special effects-rich films.
All these new advances in technology helped the film Superman to be created. Unlike the film, the medium of Smallville is television. Specifically in the early to mid 1990s, when it was realised that the teen culture or as some people put it, the MTV generation, had a lot of spending power, they became the target audience for new teen TV shows. Corporations used intertextual references heavily in these teen TV programmes. This is where a product or products are used in the show, to give more exposure to the product.
For example, a song could be playing in the background of an episode, which is aired a week before the single is released, or a character could be wearing a certain brand of shirt which is popular at that moment. All these techniques are used in Smallville. The media of Smallville affected the genre, as with Superman, film allowed its genre to be that of an action film. To be more specific, it is science fiction action film, which was popular at the time, with films such as “Star Wars.
” A film such as Superman could have a huge fan base because although its main themes were action orientated, there were also elements of comedy and romance in the film. Because of this the film in its entirety could attract a larger audience. The genre also reflects the origins of Superman. Superman first came about, in the form of a comic book in the 1930’s, a period also known as The Great Depression. This was when there were little or no jobs for unskilled workers in America and a comic book hero like Superman allowed people to escape from this bad time in their lives.
The same arose during the 1970’s, when America again was going through a tough time, like the Vietnam war, a film like Superman, helped people to forget what life was like outside the screen, and Superman, the saviour of all, became a hero in peoples hearts. Unlike the Superman, the genre of Smallville, is a teen melodrama, a genre that arose as part of the new Teen TV generation. A melodrama is a show that is driven by music, which uses music to show the characters’ emotions. This new form of melodrama has created new characters in lead roles, previously the lead female role had little or no major role.
Now we see the generation with intelligent lead roles for women, such as Chloe in Smallville, who is adventurous and audacious. This reflects the role of Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane, in Superman, who in some cases seems even stronger than Superman. Also, there was the introduction of non-threatening sensitive lead males, such as Clark Kent in Smallville. Because of both lead male and female roles, Smallville has wider appeal to both male and female, with a sensitive male character, and a pretty, but independent female character. These changes to the teen TV create a larger viewing audience for shows.
The genre of Smallville affected the music in it, as with Superman. The signature tune of Superman “The Superman March” composed by John Williams, is played throughout the film, at moments such as the first time we see Superman, and all moments when Superman does something amazing, such as catching a plummeting helicopter in mid-air, this tune is very uplifting. The piece is a big orchestral number, which was composed especially for the film, and it has a very patriotic feel to it, which reflects with the desire for escapism from the events of the last decade.
John Williams was also a renowned composer working on film such as Star Wars and The Deer Hunter; his music brought an extra bit of meaning to the film. The music in Smallville is very different to the music in Superman. It contains songs in popular styles, to attract the younger audiences, as opposed to large orchestral pieces. This song this paragraph will focus on is the song entitled “Superman” by “Five for Fighting” which appears in the Smallville episode “Stray.
” This song was not written especially for this episode of Smallville, in fact many songs have been written entitled or about Superman for example “Superman” by “Goldfinger” which talks about the pressures of life. Five for Fighting’s, song contains some very important lyrics in the chorus especially “I’m more than a bird, I’m more than a plane… ” refers to the classic slogan of Superman “Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it’s Superman” The next line “I’m more than a pretty face beside a train… ” refers to the moment in Superman when the young Clark Kent is running beside a train.
The song listened to by itself is quite sad. Yet in the context of the show, it is placed when Clark is saying goodbye to a boy he has been looking after and has become quite attached to, in this context the music is quite uplifting, and echoes new beginnings and new hope. In conclusion, the two programmes differ so much, because of the period in which they were made. Superman reflects the moods of the 1970’s and Smallville reflects the 1990’s, when not only content, but also sub-content, makes a show.