Claude Levi-Strauss was a French anthropologist, ethnologist and the
founder of intellectual movement, or structuralism.
Levi-Strauss developed a main theory surrounding the concept of
binary opposites. He was very interested in how many of these
oppositions the world had. He picked up on the fact that there were
several of these oppositions, such as antagonist/protagonist or
black/white, which often occurred in media texts. Some of these texts
included films, stories, plays or even music videos.
Binary opposites are important for certain media texts in order to
create an interesting and effective story line. For example, in a love
story film, the plot is much for satisfying for the audience if the
stereotypical unpopular character manages to win the heart of the
popular girl. The opposition here being popularity. Furthermore in other
media texts there may be evil characters and good characters fighting
against each other.
Earth–Space.Humans -Aliens. Past–Present. Normal–Strange. Known–Unknown.
Branigan suggests that narrative is „a way of organising spatial and
temporal data into a cause-effect chain of events with a beginning, a
middle and end that embodies a judgement about the nature of
Narration, according to Branigan, should be understood as “the overall
regulation and distribution of knowledge which determines how and
when a spectator acquires knowledge [of narrative events]” (1992).
Vladimir Propp, a Russian critic. Characters, according to Propp, have a
narrative function; they provide a structure for the text.
Characters that perform a function
The Hero – a character that seeks something
The Villain – who opposes or actively blocks the hero‟s quest
The Donor – who provides an object with magical properties
The Dispatcher – who sends the hero on his/her quest via a message
The False Hero – who disrupts the hero‟s success by making false claims
The Helper – who aids the hero
The Princess – acts as the reward for the hero and the object of the
Her Father – who acts to reward the hero for his effort
Actions as functions of narrative
A community/kingdom/family is in an ordered state of being
A member of the community/kingdom/family leaves home
A warning is given to the leaders of the community or a rule is imposed on the
The warning is discounted/ the rule is broken
The villain attempts to discover something about the victim of the broken rule
The villain tries to deceive the victim to gain advantage
The victim unwittingly helps the villain
A state of disorder
The villain harms a member of the community/kingdom/family
One of the members of the community/kingdom/family desires something
The hero is sent to get what is desired
The hero plans action against the villain
The hero leaves home
The hero is tested or attacked/ he meets the test and is given a magical gift
The hero reacts to the donor
The hero arrives at the place he can fulfil his quest
There is a struggle between the hero and the villain
|The hero is branded
The villain is overcome
The state of disorder is settled
The hero returns
The hero is pursued
The hero escapes or is rescued
The hero arrives home and is not recognised
A false hero claims rewards
A task is set for the hero
The task is accomplished
The hero is recognised
The false hero or villain is unmasked
The false hero is punished
The hero attains the reward (princess/ kingdom)
To Propp events are not just about character and action but also about
progressing the narrative.
Tzvetan Todorov is a Franco-Bulgarian philosopher. He proposed a theory
surrounding the different sections of a media narrative. The theory simply
The fictional environment begins with a state of equilibrium (everything is as
it should be).
It then suffers some disruption (disequilibrium).
And finally a new equilibrium is produced at the end of the narrative.
Roland Barthes –Barthes codes
All you need to know, again, very basically, is that texts may be ´open´ (ie
unravelled in a lot of different ways) or ´closed´ (there is only one obvious
thread to pull on). Barthes also decided that the threads that you pull on to
try and unravel meaning are called narrative codes and that they could be
categorised in the following five ways:
Action/proiarectic code & enigma code (ie Answers & questions)
Symbols & Signs
Points of Cultural Reference
Robert McKee is an accomplished writer, director, playwright and writing instructor.
Rather than simply handling mechanical aspects of fiction technique such as plot or dialogue taken
individually, McKee examines the narrative design of work and what makes the story compelling or
not. This could work equally as well as an analysis of any other genre or form of narrative, whether in
screenplay or any other form, and could any works that attempt to tell a story.