Trope (cinema)

In cinema, a trope is what The Art Direction Handbook for Film defines as "a universally identified image imbued with several layers of contextual meaning creating a new visual metaphor".
A common thematic trope is the rise and fall of a mobster in a classic gangster film. The film genre also often features the sartorial trope of a rising gangster buying new clothes.


The term has the same origin as that of "trope" in the sense of literature, and derived from this. In turn, this came from the Greek. Tropological criticism is the historical study of tropes, which aims to "define the dominant tropes of an epoch" and to "find those tropes in literary and non-literary texts", an interdisciplinary investigation of which Michel Foucault was an "important exemplar".
The use of the term in relation to cinema may be more common in American English than in other dialects.

In film studies

A trope is an element of film semiotics and connects between and. Films reproduce tropes of other arts and also make tropes of their own. George Bluestone wrote in Novels Into Film that in producing adaptations, film tropes are "enormously limited" compared to literary tropes. Bluestone said, " is a way... of packed symbolic thinking which is specific to imaginative rather than to visual activity... converted into a literal image, the metaphor would seem absurd."