Date published:

April 19, 2021

What is an Anthology Film?

Filmmaking is full of various terms that are a hodgepodge. Of those which are relatively simple to understand. And those which are incredibly complex and challenging to understand. For example, “anthology film” is one of those many terms. That is a mix of both simple and challenging to understand. What is an anthology film? And what does that even mean?

What is an Anthology Film?

An anthology film represents a unique composition of vignettes. Or short films which have nothing to do with one another. But are related by theme or some other elements such as the framing device, the plot or another connection.

These short films when packaged like this, as an anthology, are sometimes also referred to as a “Package film.” 

Anthology films are technically a subgenre of films that are in some manner tied or connected together by theme, a particular event or turn of events, or premise. It’s very common for these films to be directed by different people. And for them to be incredibly different from one another.

The style, story, plot and many other elements can be completely opposite of one another. But there is some connection. Some underlying single element that they each possess which, when combined, makes them an anthology.

Anthology Film Terms

Perhaps you’ve watched an anthology but it wasn’t called that? In looking to answer the common question, sometimes it’s better to address the question with the various other terminology that can be used to describe these types of films.

For example, anthology films are also sometimes referred to as the following:

  • Package films
  •  
  • Portmanteau film
  •  
  • Omnibus film

 

All of these terms are used to describe the same thing, an anthology film, or series of films that have been strung together. Or connected in some way by a single element or underlying theme.

Examples of Anthology Films

As we continue to seek an answer to the common question, “What is an anthology film?” we have to take a further look at some of the potential examples of anthology films that have been produced in the past.

Keep in mind that these films will often be created by completely different directors. But that they still have thematic elements in common such as a particular place, a person, or something that is present in each story.

There could also be a framing device. Which can better be understood as a “top-level” story that connects the shorts, or sub-stories, to one another.

Examples of an anthology film include:

  • New York Stories – They are all connected by place
  •  
  • Twenty Bucks – They are all connected by items. Specifically coffee and cigarettes
  •  
  • Quartet – They are all by the original author, W. Somerset Maugham
  •  
  • Invitation to the Dance – They are all connected by the appearance of Gene Kelly in the films

In Summation

So, what is an anthology film? It’s a compilation of several short stories that are connected by a single element or underlying element or theme. 

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