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  1. 1. Deconstructing Narratives Narrative Patterns (or structures)
  2. 2. Narrative Theories <ul><li>It is important to consider and to learn how to apply traditional narrative theories before we consider how they may have evolved and changed. </li></ul><ul><li>These theories are important as they give us a framework for analysing media texts and for understanding how narratives are communicated to the audience. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Tzvetan Todorov (1939) <ul><li>Todorov is a Bulgarian theorist who suggested that the main function of any narrative was to… </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>solve a problem </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>and that characters pass through a series of stages </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>following a linear narrative </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>where events follow a chronological order </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Todorov ’ s Theory <ul><li>The narrative starts with an equilibrium </li></ul><ul><li>An action/ character disrupts the equilibrium </li></ul><ul><li>A quest to restore the equilibrium starts </li></ul><ul><li>The narrative moves to a confrontation /climax </li></ul><ul><li>Resolution/ equilibrium is restored </li></ul>
  5. 5. Challenges to his theory <ul><li>This is a simple typical structure that most texts fit into/follow . </li></ul><ul><li>However we should be considering the problem of a ‘return to equilibrium’ or the idea of a ‘resolution’… </li></ul><ul><li>Some media texts that try to challenge audiences have OPEN ENDED NARRATIVES - leaving the audience to interpret what they understand by the ending. </li></ul><ul><li>Other resolutions are far from a ‘return to equilibrium’ e.g. the end of the film Se7en (1995) which is bleak and desolate. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Non- Linear Narratives <ul><li>Also not all texts conform to the linear structure . </li></ul><ul><li>A key aspect of narrative is its ability to manipulate time and space. </li></ul><ul><li>Many narratives are circular in their structure and / or move around in time. </li></ul><ul><li>Films like Memento (2000) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004) The Butterfly Effect (2001) and Vantage Point (2008) </li></ul><ul><li>The narrative can be complicated and can challenge the audience - due to its structure. </li></ul><ul><li>In non-fiction - such as sports programmes - time and space is manipulated - we readily accept action replays and the same events from different camera angles. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Task <ul><li>Choose a film or TV programme ( fiction please!) Try to find one that fits Todorov’s frame for a linear narrative: </li></ul><ul><li>Break down the narrative into sections suggested. </li></ul><ul><li>b)What experiences do linear narratives offer audiences? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Claude Levi-Strauss (1949) <ul><li>Levi-Strauss is a French anthropologist who studies the myths and legends of many different countries and cultures. </li></ul><ul><li>He claimed that in any narrative there is the constant creation of conflict/opposition that propels the narrative forwards (binary oppositions) </li></ul><ul><li>Narratives can only end on a resolution of conflict . </li></ul><ul><li>Opposition can be visual (light/darkness, movement/stillness) or conceptual (love/hate, control/panic good/evil.) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Vladimir Propp (1928) <ul><li>Propp was a Russian critic and folklorist- he researched the characters in myths and fairytales. </li></ul><ul><li>He was concerned with the relationship between narrative and characters . </li></ul><ul><li>He argued that stories are character driven and plots develop around characters. </li></ul><ul><li>He looked at characters and their functions in a story/narrative . </li></ul><ul><li>(Morphology of the Folktale -1928) </li></ul>
  10. 10. Propp ’ s Theory - 7 Character Roles/Types <ul><li>The hero (who has a quest) </li></ul><ul><li>The villain (struggles against the hero, tries to stop him completing his mission.) </li></ul><ul><li>The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object) </li></ul><ul><li>The helper (helps the hero in the quest) </li></ul><ul><li>The princess (the heroes reward) </li></ul><ul><li>Her father (gives the hero his reward for completing the quest) </li></ul><ul><li>The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Task <ul><li>Watch the Pixar short film ‘Boundin’ </li></ul><ul><li>Apply Levi-Strauss’ theory/ structure to the film. </li></ul><ul><li>Apply Propp’s theory/ structure to the film. </li></ul>
  12. 12. However … <ul><li>Not all theories can be applied to all media texts! </li></ul>
  13. 13. Multi-strand Narratives <ul><li>The narrative structure in many TV programmes and some films does not always follow only one storyline . E.g. series, long running dramas and Soap Operas. </li></ul><ul><li>Many TV dramas such as Holby City operate a 3 strand narrative structure. </li></ul><ul><li>Each narrative strand is introduced at the beginning of the episode and then interweave as the programme progresses. </li></ul><ul><li>On going storylines - that continue across episodes - appeals to regular loyal audiences. </li></ul><ul><li>You can also have split screen narrative techniques </li></ul><ul><li>Narrative strands are important in attracting and maintaining audience interest . </li></ul>
  14. 14. Narrative Techniques <ul><li>Audience Positioning: </li></ul><ul><li>1st Person narration/ Point of View (POV) shots </li></ul><ul><li>3rd person narration </li></ul><ul><li>The privileged spectator position </li></ul><ul><li>Flashbacks </li></ul>