Structuralism Ferdinand de Saussure: Structuralism states that culture is to be understood as a system of signs. From this semiology (system of signs) was achieved. Structuralism explores the structures through which meaning is formulated within a culture. Ferdinand de Saussure also developed the idea of paradigms, which is a group of conventions in texts.Foucault and Lacan: Kant’s Theory:Foucault and Lacan developed the theory of Structuralism. Kant’s theory is the conditions ofSuggesting that structure exists in all texts, and that art forms possibilities. Which is slightly aare short hands purely based on our cultural understanding. similar idea the idea of binary(We can also apply this this to film.) opposites.
Roland Barthes’ TheoriesMyth theory:What starts of as a myth, becomes reality and areoften distorted. Horror uses this, and plays on mythsthat become reality, by using our fears, such as;ecological, social, the youth of today.Structualists film theory emphasises howfilms convey meaning through the use ofcodes and conventions most dissimilar tothe way languages are used to constructmeaning in communication.
The Enigma code:Barthes enigma code states that a Theorists and philosophers whotext portrays an element of devised the idea of the enigmamystery to entice the audience, code. This theory suggests that athus intriguing them further to text (film/poster/television)view/read a text. portrays an element of mystery to entice the audience. Ball of thread theory: Barthes states that a text is like a tangle of threads in which we have to separate them in order to see the potential meanings of it, as there is more than one way of looking at it. Each and every interpretation is as valid as the other with reasons behind why you might look at it in different ways. there’s loads of ways in interpreting a text, he also states that there’s loads of reasons behind why you would interpret it in that way.
Pleasure of the text theory:Barthes states that before we go However, there’s another layer of pleasure thatto the cinema we know what is we receive when the unexpected happens:going to happen in the film. For You only get a ‘Jouissance’ when you don’texample if we go to see an expect it – 6th sense, usual suspects.action film we automaticallyknow that the ‘hero’ will savethe day, same as if we go to seea romantic comedy, we knowthat the couple will eventuallyfind happiness after overcomingtheir obstacles. You can almostguess what happens in mostmainstream films and seeingthis play out is the pleasure wereceive from the text/film.
Todorov’s Theory of Narrative.Todorov came up with the idea that every story has a certain typeof structure.Equilibrium: At the start of every story; everything is balanced;harmony accord.Moment of disequilibrium: Something has happened;someone bad turns up, equilibrium is shattered.Disequilibrium: The ‘hero’ struggles to fix the wrong, that This links into horror movies, as inbeset them and returns to a place of equilibrium. most horror movies, as in most horror movies, it starts off happy, calm, then further along theNew Equilibrium: Villain is defeated and peace is moment of disequilibrium happens,restored but at a cost. Something or someone has then in the middle of the film tillalways been lost and the new equilibrium is tainted by just before the end, thethis experience. disequilibrium occurs, and then finally it usually ends in a new equilibrium
The 4 C’sOther than Todorov , we can also look at the 4 C’s, which is another structural device implied inmost stories.Conflict: The hero is challenged by an outside force.Complications: The hero’s efforts to get what theywant are thwarted (often 3 times)Crisis: Beset with such difficulties, the hero comesclose to quitting (usually talked out of quitting by ahelper, or god, or some device.)Climax: Finally decided against quitting, the herohas one last guess and achieves what they wanted.
Levi Strauss: Binary Opposites.Claude Levi Strauss stated that constant creation ofconflict/opposition propels narrative. Narrative canonly end on a resolution of conflict. Oppositions canbe used (light/darkness, movement/stillness) orconceptual (love/hate, control/panic.) and to dowith the soundtrack.This links in with horror films as in most horror filmsthere are loads of conflicts, for example good versesevil, night verses dark.
Louis Althusser - interpolationLouis believed that media products, lead us to a falserecognition of ourselves, so we get lost in our ideal imageof ourselves. That will never be possible. This is used a lot in advertising, they make us think that if for example we buy the product, we well be like the model advertising the product.
Propp’s: Eight Character Types:Propp was a folklorist, who worked out that intales, there were 31 separate storylines onlythat kept representing themselves.We can see that in horror there are a limitednumber of storylines, that keep repeating.Also, Propp worked out that in texts there are alimited number of character types. We cantranspose these to film. •The Villain •The (Magical) helper •Her Father •The Hero or victim/seeker ‘hero’ •The dispatcher •The princess or prize •The donor •False hero
The Final Girl: A feminist approach toaudience identification.What you already know:• Girls always survive• If a girl dies, it is because she’s promiscuous• Girls are not often the villain• Often the victim, due to the vulnerability, and the link between horror and rape.Formal theoretical assumptionsabout horror:• It is passive• We identify with the victims• It’s male- cantered and driven.
New Ideas:• Theories and media commentators now accept that these old assumptions are wrongKey Words:• Sadism: Deriving gratification from anothers pain or domination of another Freud’s Fault – Freud’s Theory:• Masochism: Deriving gratification from • Freud was concerned with working of the ones own pain or from submission to another of others. mind; the subconscious, id, ego and• Voyeurism: Deriving gratification from superego. • Identified the Oedipus complex: Oedipus the observation murdered his father and married his mother.
What has this got to do with horror films?:• Carol Clover in ‘men, women and chainsaws’ argues that as an audience we are structurally ‘forced into identifying, not with the killer but with the resourceful surviving finale.• So instead of identifying with the sadistic voyeurs, Clover suggests that over identification has switched to the victim (a masochistic voyeur)• Clovers application of psychoanalytical theory (Oedipus complex, Freud) to horror• Sadism = POST- OEDIPAL attention switches from the mother to the father (away from a natured submission baby- state to a more independent self-motivated child state)• Masochism however is PRE-OEDIPAL the mother is less powerful, so as an audience we are masochistic & pre- oedipal because we take pleasure in identifying with the female.
Examples: In most horror film there is always a final girl, below I have listed a few ‘final girls’ from horror movies.• Jamie lee Curtis: Halloween• Betsy Palmer: Friday 13th• Heather Langenkamp: A nightmare on elm street• Eliza Dushku: Wrong Turn Our identification with the surviving girl, means that as an audience we were subject to feminist theory as well as structualist theory.
Post Structuralism: • Structuralism (early 20th century) structure exists in all art forms. • Post structuralism is a theory which exists only as a critique of structuralism and has no form of its own. It argues that there is no structure which is inherent in every text. • They attempted to distance themselves from structuralism
Modernism:Modernism: A movement away from structure, it developed out of poststructuralism.A new direction in art, literature theology, etc., emphasisingnew ideas and including a deliberate break with the past.Modernism grew, as a reaction to the first world war,artists began to question conventional structures throughtheir art. The movement embraced discontinuity andrejected smooth change. It approves the disruption,rejecting or moving beyond simple realism in literatureand art.Modernism: There can be meaning without rules and structure.
Deconstruction: • Deconstruction is an active process. • In this instance It does not simply mean analysing or breaking down into meaning (as we often use when studying a text) • Deconstruction is what the art form does. It attempts to deconstruct the reader/viewer’s expectations and its about being smart how this process happens. • Its about getting to a film with a set of expectations. The film deconstructs your expectations. • ‘Shaun of the dead’ deconstructs your pre-conceived notions about horror film genre, character etc.
Postmodernism:• Doing the unexpected in a knowing way. It’s about knowing the rules a d breaking them.• The loss of rule of combination is called “bricolage” (French term, meaning jumble, like brick-a-brack shop)• Postmodern films are self-referred. They play with generic conventions knowingly. There’s a deliberate subversion of paradigms.• W.B: postmodernism is different from parody (poking fun at something to create a humorous reaction) it’s different between a postmodern film like “Shaun of the dead” and a spoof.
Laura Mulvey: The male gazeIn classical Hollywood cinema, viewers were encouraged toidentify with the protagonist of the film, who tended to be aman. Meanwhile Hollywood female characters of the 1950sand 60s were according to Mulvey, coded with “to-be-looked-at-ness”.