Narrative codes

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Narrative codes

  1. 1. Unit G321 – Opening sequences Narrative Codes
  2. 2. Lesson Objectives • To know: What information is communicated in the opening sequences of films. • To understand: Roland Barthes theory about narrative codes. • To be able to: Think about both of the above in relation to your own coursework.
  3. 3. Opening sequences • What information is conveyed to the audience in these opening sequences? • Children of Men • I am Legend
  4. 4. Roland Barthes • Influential French Literary Theorist. • Developed a theory that there are 5 major codes within a story that are interwoven in order to create meaning. • For our purposes, i.e. to aid our understanding of opening sequences, we’re going to consider just 2 of the 5 codes.
  5. 5. The Hermeneutic Code • More commonly called enigma codes or narrative enigmas. • Put very simply, narrative enigmas are unanswered questions that the audience want answered. • The hermeneutic code – the parts of a story that are not fully explained. They exist as enigmas or questions that the audience wishes to be resolved. A detective story, for example, is a narrative that operates mainly by the hermeneutic code. A criminal act is shown and the remainder of the narrative is devoted to answering questions raised by the initial event.
  6. 6. The Hermeneutic Code • In order to maintain interest, the final truth is not revealed typically until the end of the story and some devices are used to conceal it: • The snare – a deliberate avoidance of the truth – a tease or an implication that sends the audience down a wrong path. • Partial answers – revealing some (but not all) of the final truth(s) – this is used to actually increase suspense. • Equivocation – a mixture of truth and snare – usually further muddying the water! • Jamming – Suggesting that the problem may be completely unsolvable.
  7. 7. The Proairetic Code • The proairetic code – actions that suggest further action/reaction. • Also known as the action code. • E.g. a character has an argument and the audience wonders what the resolution or outcome of this argument will be. This creates suspense/tension as the audience wonder what the outcome will be and begin to make guesses.
  8. 8. How are these codes used in the opening sequences to: • • • • Minority Report Saw Children of Men I Am Legend

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