VladmirPropp was a formal scholar who analysed components
of the plots of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest
VladmirPropp claimed that a majority of Folk tales were similar
in a variety of areas. From this observation, Propp created a
theory called „Narrative Functions‟
According to VladmirPropp:
1. All characters have a function
2. Characters implement a structure for the text
VladmirPropp concluded that all characters can be understood
through seven broad functions.
1. Hero/ Victim / Seeker Hero – Listens to the Donor, then wins
the quest and ends up marrying the princess
2. Villain – Opposes and challenges the Hero.
3. Donor – Prepares the Hero or gives the Hero a magical object
4. Dispatcher – Makes the Hero aware of the quest and send
the Hero off
5.Princess/ Prize/ Princess’s Farther-The Hero and Princess
are supposed to be together throughout the story .
However, they are forced to be apart due to the unfair evil
mainly caused by the villain. The Hero‟s journey generally
ends when the villain is beaten and he marries the Princess
6. Magical or Ordinary Helper – Helps the Hero in their
7. False Hero – Takes credit for the Hero‟s actions or attempts to
marry the princess
In a battle scene VladmirPropp has suggested this theory:
There is a battle between the hero.
(Picture from the Short Film called „Lazy
The Hero wins
The Villain loses
A state of order is then restored
In the reconciliation scene VladmirPropp stated this theory:
At this moment in the short film the hero is identified (Shown in
action films, like Pirates of the Caribbean)
Or the false hero or villain is unmasked and therefore revealed
(Common in horror film scenes)
False hero or villain could be punished in this scene
Hero attains the reward ( like the princess or kingdom). Then
they live happily ever after ( frequently shown in fairy tales)
Levi Strauss was a French anthropologist who lived in the
He viewed the way people comprehend certain words
depends on our understanding of the difference between the
word and its „opposite‟ or as Strauss referrers it to „Binary
In Strauss‟s theory, binary oppositions are sets of opposite
codes, which expose the structure of media texts. An example
would be good and evil, normally this concept is understood of
good as being the opposite of evil.
Levi –Strauss was not so interested in looking at the order in
which events were arranged in the plot. He looked instead for
deeper arrangements of themes. This theory also connects in
with something called Dominant Ideology.
Dominant ideology is the set of common values and beliefs
shared by most people in a given society, framing how the
majority think about a range of topics. The left hand side of the
list below falls into the category of dominant ideology.
An example of Binary Opposition
The word „villain‟ is juxtaposed with “hero” within many
medium. Binary opposites are used regularly in
films, particularly in horror films. For example, good and
evil, sane and insane, rational and irrational and human and
Batman is continually seen as the protagonist in the film
„Batman.‟ Having witnessed his parents death, he swears
revenge on all criminals who try to unsettle peace in Gotham
City. Batman is challenged against the insane criminal the
Joker who wants Batman dead. The film poster is very
powerful because it asserts the huge contrast between the two
characters, distinctively to the audiences. The Joker looks very
devious, while holding a card, which shows Batman dead,.
This film poster could represent good verses evil, sane verses
insane or hero verses villain.
Verbal and Technical Code
Technical Code is defined as how technology is used to create
meaning. This can include camera angles, sound and lighting.
Verbal Code is the approach of secretly communicating
knowledge to another character by using certain words that
Examples of Technical and Verbal
Codes from short films
An example is from the romantic short film called
„Strangers, again‟. From this image, we can tell from the two
characters verbal code that they are in love with each other. In
this scene, we hear the voiceover from the male saying, “It
was a dream come true”. Moreover, from their expressions and
body language, it shows that they are very happy together and
their smiles tell a million words.
An example of the technical code can be seen in the short film
about victims of domestic violence, called „Thank‟s Dad‟. From
the image of this scene below, it shows that a hand-held
camera was used and the saturation was in black and white.
This type of technical code symbolised reflected the very
dark, intense story behind the film because the wife is scared
of her husband.