Narrative Task


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Narrative Task

  2. 2. THE CONCEPT OF NARRATIVE Narrative is defined as “a chain of events in a cause-effect relationship occurring in time” (Bordwell & Thompson, Film Art, 1980) Media texts present versions of the world through the 'packaging' of events and characters into stories. Such narratives may be extended and developed, as in film dramas or documentary programmes where the whole 'story' is told. They may also be continuous or serial narratives, such as television news broadcasts or soap operas. They may also be mini-narratives, or narrative 'snapshots', limited or single narrative events which leave the viewer to complete the narrative, a technique which is used in many magazine or television advertisements). Narrative Flow is important because it keeps the reader engrossed in the story being told and assists in building and maintaining a "willing suspension of disbelief". Diegesis is the internal world created by the story that the characters themselves experience and encounter. A story is all events referenced both explicitly in a narrative and inferred (including back-story as well as those projected beyond the action) whilst a plot is the events directly incorporated into the action of the text and the order in which they are presented. In terms of narrative range, unrestricted narration is a narrative which has no limits to the information that is presented, whereas a restricted narration only offers minimal information regarding the narrative. In terms of narrative depth, subjective character identification is where the viewer is given unique access to what a range of characters see and do and objective character identification is where the viewer is given unique access to a characters point of view, such as seeing things from the character‟s mind etc..
  3. 3. MODULAR NARRATIVES IN CONTEMPORARY CINEMA - ALLAN CAMERON Modular narratives “articulate a sense of time as divisible and subject to manipulation”, there are 4 different types that have been identified: 1) ANACHRONIC – Involves the use of flashbacks and/or flash forwards, with no clear dominance between any of the narrative threads. These narratives also repeat scenes directly or via a different perspective. 2) FORKING-PATH – Narratives juxtapose alternate versions of a story, showing the possible outcomes that might result from small changes in a single event or group of events. It offers a number of plot lines that usually contradict one another. 3) EPISODIC – Narratives are organised as an abstract series or narrative anthology. Abstract series type of modular is characterised by the operation of a non-narrative formal system which appears to dictate the organisation of narrative elements such as a sequence of numbers or the alphabet. 4) SPLIT SCREEN – Different from other types of modular narratives, their modularity is articulated along spatial rather than temporal lines. These films divide the screen into two or more frames, juxtaposing events in the same visual field, in a sustained fashion, BARTHES‟ 5 codes: The Hermeneutic Code, The Proairectic Code, The Semantic Code, The Symbolic Code and The Cultural Code.
  4. 4. TZVETAN TODOROV’S NARRATIVE THEORY There is the initial concept of applying 3 acts to every narrative, EQUILLIBRIUM, DISRUPTION/DIS-EQUILLIBIRUM, EQUILLIBIRUM. Equilibrium, disequilibrium and new equilibrium are the three main driving points of a movie. Within most movies at the start, equilibrium exists (this means there an existing state of harmony at the beginning of the movie. Later on in the movie, there is a disequilibrium which is when the equilibrium is disrupted by an unfortunate event or evil character that would then lead to a chain of events involving conflict. At the end of most if movies there is then a new equilibrium, involving the evil forces being defeated, the conflict being resolved and harmony existing once more. Todorov suggested that conventional narratives are structured in 5 stages: 1) A state of equilibrium at the outset; 2) A disruption of the equilibrium by some action; 3) A recognition that there has been a disruption; 4) An attempt to repair the disruption; 5) A reinstatement of the equilibirum.
  5. 5. APPLYING TO FILM NARRATIVE The Hangover is a 2009 American comedy film, co-produced and directed by Todd Philips and written by Jon Lucas and Scott Moore. It is the first film of The Hangover franchise. It tells the story of Phil Wenneck, Stu Price and Alan Garner, who travel to Las Vegas for a bachelor party to celebrate their friend Doug‟s impending marriage. However, Phil, Stu and Alan have no memory of the previous night's events and must find Doug before the wedding can take place; it is known for being the best comedy of this time. < TRAILER In terms of Todorov‟s narrative structure, the equilibrium to begin with is portrayed by the friends relaxing and enjoying the preparation for Doug‟s bachelor party by having a costly suite and letting the night unfold with shots on the roof. The disruption however is what seems a number of things to start, a tiger in the bathroom, complete memory loss of the previous night and finding a baby in the closet. The most important and dawned on fact though is that they have lost their due-to-be wed friend Doug and have no recollection of where he is. The plot unfolds by finding clues and tracing their steps (or what they can remember) of what on earth happened while they were mistakenly drugged by comical Alan. They come closer to finding new equilibrium as the plot continues and finally near the end find Doug sunburnt and badly dehydrated on the roof with his mattress, and at that moment up to the wedding, equilibrium is reinstated.
  6. 6. VLADIMIR PROPP’S NARRATIVE THEORY Vladimir Propp was a Soviet formalist scholar who analysed the basic plot components of Russian folk tales to identify their simplest irreducible narrative elements. He broke up fairy tales into sections and through these sections he was able to define the tale into a series of sequences that occurred within the Russian fairytale. He also concluded that all characters could be resolved into 7 broad character functions in the 100 tales he analysed. He suggested that characters took on the role of narrative „spheres of action‟ or functions. From a comprehensive study or folktales Propp came up with seven different character types: 1) THE HERO – usually male, the agent who restores the narrative equilibrium often by embarking on a quest or search. 2) THE VILLIAN – Usually creates the narrative disruption 3) THE DONOR – Gives the hero something, It may be an object, information or advice. Which helps in resolution of the narrative. 4) THE HELPER – Aids the hero in the task of restoring equilibrium 5) THE PRINCESS – The victim, usually the character most threatened by the villain and has to be saved, at the climax, by the hero. 6) THE DISPACHER – Sends the hero on his/her task 7) THE FALSE HERO – Appears to be good but is revealed, at the narratives end, to have been bad.
  7. 7. APPLYING PROPP TO FILM - (THE HANGOVER) The main protagonist Phil would be the hero and who saves the day by finding Doug. He is conventionally the most attractive, intelligent and leader of the „Wolfpack‟ Alan, the man comical character, would be the helper as he aids Phil. He could also be the false hero as he turns out to be the one that drugged the wolf pack, causing severe memory loss Stu would be another helper, the story is based around him, Alan and Phil trying to restore the equilibrium that was disrupted by one night out in Vegas. Doug would most likely take the role of The Princess.. well, the victim. We think Mr Chow is going to kill him so Phil, Stu and Alan have to make money to save him. Their initial mission was to find him in time for his wedding Mr Chow would in these circumstances be The Villain. We think he puts Doug in danger by threatening to kill him, which causes more disruption to the narrative. This Doctor would be seen as The Donor as he gives Phil evidence about the previous night to lead him on the right trail, helping restore equilibrium. Mike Tyson would also be a donor, he shows the boys video footage which reinforces the idea that Doug is alive, helping them on their way. Stu‟s Vegas wife, Jade, could take multiple roles such as The Donor and The Helper as she gives them information but also helps them in winning money to help save Doug
  8. 8. In conclusion, narrative theorists including Todorov and Propp have made roles and functions that could apply to any narrative to help tell a particular story. In many cases, narratives follow conventions to make climaxes and resolutions, as well as the main character taking the role of what predominantly could be seen as the Hero with many other character types fitting in successfully. However, some modern day narratives have progressed further than what Propp originally identified in regards to character type, for example what at first could be seen as the Hero could in fact all along be the Villain. Character roles can subvert and change depending on the narrative‟s circumstances and that is what help create original and interesting narratives, not following a specific structure. In many cases though, the stable structure of narrative is evident through many immensely successful films and so this is down to the 3 stage structure involving the reinstatement of equilibrium.