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Narrative for Q1(b)

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  • 1. Narrative is the art of telling a story – so it is more than just the story, it is how the story is told.
  • 2. 1. Story & Plot - Bordwell & Thompson 2. Enigma Codes – Roland Barthes
  • 3. BORDWELL & THOMPSONBORDWELL & THOMPSON "The term plot is used to describe everything visible and audibly"The term plot is used to describe everything visible and audibly present in the film before us" (Bordwell and Thompson)present in the film before us" (Bordwell and Thompson) "The set of all the events in a narrative, both the ones explicitly"The set of all the events in a narrative, both the ones explicitly presented and those the viewer infers, composes the story"presented and those the viewer infers, composes the story" (Bordwell and Thompson)(Bordwell and Thompson) In other words, the story is the combination of the entireIn other words, the story is the combination of the entire sequence of events that is shown as well as everything thatsequence of events that is shown as well as everything that we conclude has happened but is not shown.we conclude has happened but is not shown.
  • 4. In summaryIn summary PlotPlot:: The explicit presentation of narrative (story) events along with additional non-diegetic material (credits, score, etc.) Story:Story: All the events - both those that are visually represented and those that are inferred by the audience from the plot.
  • 5. DefinitionsDefinitions ExplicitExplicit: Expressing all details in a clear and obvious: Expressing all details in a clear and obvious way leaving no doubt as to the intended meaningway leaving no doubt as to the intended meaning – So, what the audience actually see and hear in the film. InferInfer: To conclude something on the basis of evidence: To conclude something on the basis of evidence or reasoningor reasoning – So, what the audience presumes has happened based on what they see and hear in the film.
  • 6. The key to narrative analysis is to consider the wider storyThe key to narrative analysis is to consider the wider story rather than simply describing the plot.rather than simply describing the plot. There are elements of any narrative that we are expected toThere are elements of any narrative that we are expected to presume or infer, simply because it would be impossible topresume or infer, simply because it would be impossible to explicitly state everything.explicitly state everything. Sometimes the plot may deliberately obscure elements of storySometimes the plot may deliberately obscure elements of story to keep us intrigued (as in mysteries). Many art house filmsto keep us intrigued (as in mysteries). Many art house films are less dependant upon plot and require the audience toare less dependant upon plot and require the audience to infer more.infer more.
  • 7. Elements of story are often open to interpretation, for example we asElements of story are often open to interpretation, for example we as viewers may presume something about a character based uponviewers may presume something about a character based upon their appearance or actions.their appearance or actions. We often do this subconsciously. Sometimes the plot can be left openWe often do this subconsciously. Sometimes the plot can be left open which leaves us to make up our own mind about what might orwhich leaves us to make up our own mind about what might or might not happen.might not happen. The more sophisticated your understanding of story and your abilityThe more sophisticated your understanding of story and your ability to infer subtle information, the better your work will be. Theto infer subtle information, the better your work will be. The weakest narrative analysis relies too much upon explicitweakest narrative analysis relies too much upon explicit information. However be careful, inferences must be backed up byinformation. However be careful, inferences must be backed up by reference to the text.reference to the text.
  • 8. = Compression of Time= Compression of Time Most films operate a high degree of Ellipsis or TimeMost films operate a high degree of Ellipsis or Time manipulation.manipulation. In order to move the story forward, the film only shows theIn order to move the story forward, the film only shows the audience the moments in time which are relevant to theaudience the moments in time which are relevant to the narrative.narrative. TASK: Consider the organisation of time in The Fifth Estate: 1. Draw a simplified timeline that shows the order of events as we see them in the film (plot) 2. Now consider events in the order that we infer they took place (story).
  • 9. Apply Bordwell and Thompson’s theoretical approach byApply Bordwell and Thompson’s theoretical approach by considering the organisation of time in your teaser trailerconsidering the organisation of time in your teaser trailer in terms of plot and story:in terms of plot and story: Create a timeline of theCreate a timeline of the plotplot and then theand then the storystory in yourin your teaser trailer.teaser trailer.
  • 10. What does this approach reveal?What does this approach reveal? Is the plot:Is the plot: • In chronological order? (linear narrative)In chronological order? (linear narrative) • Or, are events shown out of time order? (non-linearOr, are events shown out of time order? (non-linear narrative)narrative) What aspects of the story are inferred?What aspects of the story are inferred? Stretch and Challenge: To what extent does this inferenceStretch and Challenge: To what extent does this inference rely on audience understanding of genre conventions?rely on audience understanding of genre conventions?
  • 11. Use of Narrative to create Suspense and AudienceUse of Narrative to create Suspense and Audience expectations…expectations… Restricted or Unrestricted Narratives determine howRestricted or Unrestricted Narratives determine how much information is released to the Audience at amuch information is released to the Audience at a time… What do they need to know and when?time… What do they need to know and when? If the audience knows more than the characters then theIf the audience knows more than the characters then the narrative is unrestricted. If the audience only sees eventsnarrative is unrestricted. If the audience only sees events through the eyes of one character, for example, then it isthrough the eyes of one character, for example, then it is restricted – we only know as much as they do. Click here forrestricted – we only know as much as they do. Click here for more detailed explanation:more detailed explanation: http://http:// www.slideshare.net/MatthewHartman/narration-9248060www.slideshare.net/MatthewHartman/narration-9248060
  • 12. Narratives that are left unresolved or ambiguous canNarratives that are left unresolved or ambiguous can be described as open narratives.be described as open narratives. For example, if Eastenders ends on a cliff-hanger at the end ofFor example, if Eastenders ends on a cliff-hanger at the end of the episode and you don’t know what will be the outcome,the episode and you don’t know what will be the outcome, then it is an open narrative.then it is an open narrative. Narratives that come to a clear conclusion can be saidNarratives that come to a clear conclusion can be said to have reached narrative closure. Can you think ofto have reached narrative closure. Can you think of any examples?any examples? Would a good teaser trailer have an open or closed narrative?Would a good teaser trailer have an open or closed narrative?
  • 13. • EllipsisEllipsis • Restricted narrative / Unrestricted narrativeRestricted narrative / Unrestricted narrative • Open / Closed narrativeOpen / Closed narrative • Linear / Non-linear narrativeLinear / Non-linear narrative Plus another one:Plus another one: • Multi-strand narrativeMulti-strand narrative
  • 14. To entice an audience to go and see theTo entice an audience to go and see the film.film. Don’t forget to acknowledge this in your own analysisDon’t forget to acknowledge this in your own analysis as it is a key driver of what plot information is and isas it is a key driver of what plot information is and is not given to the viewer and what questions this leavesnot given to the viewer and what questions this leaves them with.them with. It is useful to consider Roland Barthes work here…It is useful to consider Roland Barthes work here…
  • 15. Action Codes: Images or sequences which work asAction Codes: Images or sequences which work as a form of a Visual Shorthand making complexa form of a Visual Shorthand making complex Ideas immediately apparent and carrying theIdeas immediately apparent and carrying the story forward.story forward. Enigma Codes: Images/sequences which controlEnigma Codes: Images/sequences which control how much we know in the story, engaging andhow much we know in the story, engaging and holding audience interest. They present puzzlesholding audience interest. They present puzzles which demand to be solved.which demand to be solved. And The Action/Enigma CodesAnd The Action/Enigma Codes
  • 16. More on the Enigma CodeMore on the Enigma Code An enigma code works to keep setting up little puzzles to be solved (and not only at the beginning of a story), to delay the story’s ending pleasurably: e.g. how will Tom Cruise get out of this predicament? Enigma codes can be described as minor or major.
  • 17. Apply Barthes’ ideasApply Barthes’ ideas Task: Watch the clip and write down all the questions it raises for you as a viewer. The Social Network Now try and sort them into minor and major enigmas.
  • 18. Apply his ideas to your own workApply his ideas to your own work What elements of your trailer act as enigma codes (or clues) that leave the audience with questions or puzzles to solve? Draw and fill in the table below: What are the codes (or clues)? What questions do they leave the audience with? Minor: Major:
  • 19. How would you approach this in the exam?How would you approach this in the exam? What the examiners say: ‘If the concept is narrative, and you’ve done a film trailer, you might consider how far a trailer gives a sense of a film’s narrative and how much you choose to reveal in yours as part of promoting the film. What you don’t want to do is apply some theory like Todorov’s to try to prove that your film follows a pattern. The task should be seen as an opportunity really to reflect on how your chosen project actually works as a text.’
  • 20. How would you approach this in the exam?How would you approach this in the exam? Examiner’s guide to structuring your answer: Para 1 - Intro: Which of your projects are you going to write about? Briefly describe it Para 2: What are some of the key features of the concept you are being asked to apply? Maybe outline two of the theories/ideas of particular writers briefly. (Bordwell & Thompson? Barthes?) Para 3: Start to apply the concept, making close reference to your production to show how the concept is evident in it. (See next slide) Para 4: Keep applying! Para 5: Conclusion (How successful is the narrative of your product in serving the purpose of a teaser trailer?)
  • 21. How would you approach this in the exam?How would you approach this in the exam? Ideas for working through paragraphs 3 & 4: •What narrative structure does your trailer use? Linear/non- linear? Open/closed? •How does this tie in with the purpose of a teaser trailer? •What plot information is given and what may audiences infer about the story of the film? (You could also refer to genre here – does your trailer show conventional elements of a particular genre and so set up narrative expectations based on that genre?) Link back to how this will entice viewers – and which viewers it would entice. •What enigma codes are there and what questions or puzzles are the audience left with? Link back to how this will entice viewers.