What is Narrative?
• A narrative is a spoken or written account of a certain event, this
could be something that has once happened, or a story.
• Why is Narrative Important?
Narrative is important, as it makes it clear what is happening to an
audience, it also helps to give details on certain aspects of the
story that the audience may not know, for example, what the
characters emotions are throughout.
• Act One– The set up is very important in a film, as during the beginning ten minutes of a film, is
when the audience will decided whether they will enjoy it or not, and are usually reluctant to
change their mind.
• As a film maker, they must give the audience an idea of what the films is going to be about,
who the main character(s) will be, and what they should feel about them, and what to
expect the films overall style to be.
• During the first act of a film, the audience should learn the nature of the problem that is facing
• Act 2 - Confrontation (longest act of the film). The main character is involved in a number of
more and more extreme problem situations where they confront their enemies normally quite
• Often there will be a mid-point where they begin to turn things around and win what looked
like a helpless struggle, but there is still a long way to go and at plot point two they will realise
that the way they have been going about things is not working and they will be ready for…
• Act 3 - Resolution The hero will finally take control in the struggles with their problems (often by
going to confront the enemy on their own home territory) and will achieve a final, decisive
• In 1969 Todrov produced a theory which suggest could be applied to any film, he
believed that each film followed the same narrative pattern.
• 1. A state of equilibrium (All is as it should be.)
• 2. A disruption of that order by an event.
• 3. A recognition that the disorder has occurred.
• 4. An attempt to repair the damage of the disruption.
• 5. A return or restoration of a NEW equilibrium
Rain ManDustin Hoffman
• Todorov’s theory can applied to the film Rain Man.
The equilibrium is shown during the beginning of the film, as all is as it should be,
with the lead character Charlie being at work, and him and his girlfriend Susanna
taking a trip away together.
The news that Charlie’s father has died and that he has only received the rose
bushes and a car in his will, and the fact he has an unknown brother who has all
of his fathers wealth is then seen as a disruption all caused by one event, the
death of his father.
Charlie and Susanne then go to the home that Ray (Charlie’s brother) is at, as he
now wants what he believes is his fair share of the money, this is then seen as the
As Charlie and Raymond’s trip to court continues, Charlie becomes more fond of
Raymond and is reminded of various childhood memories and grows very close to
him, Charlie then gets to the court and realises he doesn’t actually want the
money but custody of Raymond, this is seen as the attempt to repair the damage
of the disruption.
Raymond is allowed to go back home to Cincinnati. Charlie, who has gained a
new brother and mellowed considerably, promises Raymond as he boards an
Amtrak train that he'll visit in two weeks. This is seen as a new equilibrium.
• Vladimir Propp was a Russian critic, who was particularly
interested in the narrative of Folk Tales.
• Propp noticed that folk tales were often similar in a variety
• Propp identified a theory about characters and actions as
• Propp stated that characters have a narrative function
and they provide a structure for the text.
Propp• Propp had 31 narrative functions –
• A member of a family leaves home (the hero is introduced as a unique person within the tribe, whose needs may not be met by remaining)
• An interdiction (a command NOT to do something e.g.'don't go there', 'go to this place'), is addressed to the hero;
• The hero ignores the interdiction
• The villain appears and (either villain tries to find the children/jewels etc; or intended victim encounters the villain);
• The villain gains information about the victim;
• The villain attempts to deceive the victim to take possession of victim or victim's belongings (trickery; villain disguised, tries to win confidence of victim);
• The victim is fooled by the villain, unwittingly helps the enemy;
• Villain causes harm/injury to family/tribe member (by abduction, theft of magical agent, spoiling crops, plunders in other forms, causes a disappearance,
expels someone, casts spell on someone, substitutes child etc, commits murder, imprisons/detains someone, threatens forced marriage, provides nightly
torments); Alternatively, a member of family lacks something or desires something (magical potion etc);
• Misfortune or lack is made known, (hero is dispatched, hears call for help etc/ alternative is that victimised hero is sent away, freed from imprisonment);
• Seeker agrees to, or decides upon counter-action;
• Hero leaves home;
• Hero is tested, interrogated, attacked etc, preparing the way for his/her receiving magical agent or helper (donor);
• Hero reacts to actions of future donor (withstands/fails the test, frees captive, reconciles disputants, performs service, uses adversary's powers against them);
• Hero acquires use of a magical agent (it's directly transferred, located, purchased, prepared, spontaneously appears, is eaten/drunk, or offered by other
• Hero is transferred, delivered or led to whereabouts of an object of the search;
• Hero and villain join in direct combat;
• Hero is branded (wounded/marked, receives ring or scarf);
• Villain is defeated (killed in combat, defeated in contest, killed while asleep, banished);
• Initial misfortune or lack is resolved (object of search distributed, spell broken, slain person revived, captive freed);
• Hero returns;
• Hero is pursued (pursuer tries to kill, eat, undermine the hero);
• Hero is rescued from pursuit (obstacles delay pursuer, hero hides or is hidden, hero transforms unrecognisably, hero saved
from attempt on his/her life);
• Hero unrecognised, arrives home or in another country;
• False hero presents unfounded claims;
• Difficult task proposed to the hero (trial by ordeal, riddles, test of strength/endurance, other tasks);
• Task is resolved;
• Hero is recognised (by mark, brand, or thing given to him/her);
• False hero or villain is exposed;
• Hero is given a new appearance (is made whole, handsome, new garments etc);
• Villain is punished;
• Hero marries and ascends the throne (is rewarded/promoted).
• Propp also defined the character categories –
• the villain, who struggles with the hero (formally known as the antagonist)
• the donor,
• the helper,
• the Princess, a sought-for person (and/or her father), who exists as a goal and often
recognizes and marries hero and/or punishes villain
• the dispatcher,
• the hero, who departs on a search (seeker-hero), reacts to the donor and weds
• the false hero (or antihero or usurper), who claims to be the hero, often seeking and
reacting like a real hero (ie by trying to marry the princess)
• Propp’s theory can be seen throughout the film Rain Man -