What is an Anthology Film?


An anthology film – also known as an omnibus film, package film, or portmanteau film – is a subgenre of films consisting of several different short films, often tied together by only a single theme, premise, or brief interlocking event (often a turning point).

Sometimes each one is directed by a different director.

Anthology Film vs Revue Film

These differ from revue films such as Paramount on Parade (1930) – which were common in Hollywood in the early sound film era to show off their stars and related vaudeville-style acts – composite films, and compilation films.

What Binds the Film Together?

Sometimes there is a theme that is present in each story and serves to bind them together, such as:

  • A place, for example New York Stories (1989) or Paris, je t’aime (2006);
  • A person, for example Four Rooms (1995); or
  • A thing, for example Twenty Bucks (1993) or Coffee and Cigarettes (2003).

Two of the earliest films to use the form were Edmund Goulding’s Grand Hotel (1932), released by MGM with an all-star cast; and Paramount’s If I Had a Million (also 1932), featuring segments helmed by a number of directors.

What is a Package Film?

A package film is a film consisting of several short films, often a feature-length compilation of short subjects in animation.

Compilation Film vs Anthology Film

An anthology film looks stylistically like a compilation film and some anthology films are compilation films, but certainly not all of them.

What distinguishes an anthology film from a compilation movie is the fact that a compilation film by definition shows archive or stock footage shown before, while the short segments in an anthology film are new material.

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