Structuralism There must be aFerdinand De Saussure; structure in every text, which explainsStructuralism states that culture is to be understood as a why it is easier forsystem of signs. From this semiology (system of signs) was experienced readers thandeveloped. Structuralism is the belief in paradigms. They for non-experiencedbelieve that everything has a set of rules that need to be readers to interpret afollowed. A paradigm is a group of conventions and in its text.simplest form means example. Paradigms can range fromcharacter to prop.Examples of Paradigms:Location – Dark and isolated so victim’sscreams cannot be heard.Prop - Knife as its more of a personal killingbetween the victim and the villain.Non-diegetic sound – Eerie, unknown soundenters when a suspicious character enters the scene.
Barthes’ Theory the reasons behindBarthes stated that there are many different ways of interrupting texts, andthe interpretation are also different. From this he developed three theories:The Enigma Code The Enigma CodeBall of Threads From looking at film trailers which establish noPleasure of Text new state of equilibrium, the audience start to ask questions about different parts of the film Pleasure of text that confuse or interest us the most, as these In relation to the enigma code, from some film trailers parts create a sense of the unknown. we already know what is most likely to happen before we have even the seen the film. For example, if we see Ball of thread theory an action film we know the hero will save the day and Each text is like a tangled ball of thread which if we see a romance we know the couple will needs to be unravelled. Once unravelled, we eventually find happiness, overcoming their obstacles. encounter a wide range of potential meanings. So when watching horror trailers where there is no We can start by looking at narrative in one new equilibrium we make our own predictions and way, from one viewpoint, one set of previous seeing these play out creates the pleasure we get from experience and create one meaning for that text. the text(film). However, there is another layer of You then continue by unravelling the text from pleasure to be had when the unexpected happens. You a different angle to create an entirely different only get a jouissance when you don’t expect it. perception.
Todorov’s Theory of NarrativeEquilibrium: However, majority of horrorA state of balance and harmony at the beginning of every trailers do not show a state ofstory. new equilibrium as it would ruin the whole story for theMoment of Disequilibrium: audience as we would knowSomething happens which shatters the equilibrium, what happens.for example a suspicious character is introduced.Disequilibrium:The hero struggles to fix the wrongs that beset them and return to place ofequilibrium.New Equilibrium:Villain is defeated and peace is restored but at a cost. Something or someonehas always been lost and the new equilibrium is tainted by experience.
Claude-Levi StraussBinary OppositionsLevi-Strauss devised that the constant creation of conflict andopposition propels the narrative. A narrative can only end on a resolutionof conflict. Opposition can be:VisualLight/darknessMovement/stillnessConceptualLove/hateControl/panic
Propp’s TheoryPropp created a set of 8 characters, which are all typical within aconvention horror movie. The 8 types were:The villain - struggles against the heroThe donor - prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical objectThe magical helper -helps the hero in the questThe princess - person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrativeThe dispatcher -character who makes the lack known and sends the hero offThe hero or victim/seeker hero - reacts to the donor and weds the princess.Her father
Carol Clover’s TheoryCarol Clover’s ‘Final Girl Theory’ states that within astructuralist horror film there is always a final girl. Atypical final girl is seen as innocent, and virginalwhich makes her seem vulnerable, and is thereforeshocking when shown as a final girl at the end of thefilm. Girls who have been murdered in previous horrorfilms have always been shown as promiscuous andpretty. From this, we can then infer from our priorknowledge of horror films which characters are mostlylikely to die and which are mostly like to survive. Examples of final girls: Jamie Lee Curtis – Halloween (Top) Sidney Prescott – Scream (Bottom)
Clover and Freud’s TheoryApplication of psychoanalytical theory (Oedipal Complex)Sadism = Post-Oedipal attention switching from the motherto the father, or in horror terms identifying with the killer.Masochism = Pre-Oedipal states that the mother is allpowerful. So as an audience we are masochistic because wetake pleasure in identifying with the female. In relation to the final girl theory, Carol Clover indicated that as an audience we are structurally ‘forced’ to identify not with the killer, but with the surviving female. So instead of identifying with the sadistic voyeur, Clover suggests that our identification has switched to the victim (a masochistic voyeur.)
Postmodernism A postmodern film is a film which does the unexpected in a knowing way. It is all about knowing the rules and breaking them. Rules of CombinationPostmodern Films:o Self-referential. They play with Geek Woods Killerclown Knife generic conventions knowingly. Murderous Deliberate subversion of Cheerleader paradigms.o Different from parody (poking fun at something to elicit a Loss of the rule of combination is called ‘bricolage.’ humorous reaction.) This is a French term meaning jumble.o Difference between a postmodern film like ‘Shaun of the Dead’ and a spoof.