Media theories look at the conventions of a story. There are numerous theories which can be applied to any film. One theory is Todorov ’s theory. He was a Bulgarian philosopher who published work on narrative since the 1960’s. He believes that all stories begin with an equilibrium where any potential opposing forces are in balance. This balance then gets disrupted by an event, setting off a series of other events. The problems are then solved and the state is then restored with a reordered equilibrium. Original Equilibrium ---- Disruption of Equilibrium ---- Reordered Equilibrium Films linked with this theory The Taking of Pelham 123 Todorov’s Equilibrium theory can be applied to this film. The story begins with the everyday life of a rail network controller doing his everyday routines at home and then at work. Then the disruption of the equilibrium occurs when four hijackers take control of the underground train, threatening to kill passengers on board the train. The equilibrium is the restored when the rail network controller saves the train and then ultimately kills Ryder, the main hijacker.
Propp ’s theory involves character roles and types. He noted that whatever the surface differences, characters could be grouped into eight roles. These are; -The villain -Hero who is usually motivated by an initial lack of something -Donor who provides the hero with a special quality -Helper who assists the hero -Princess who is a reward for the hero and is often an object for the villain -Princesses father -Dispatcher who sends the hero on his way -False hero These character roles can be applied to all types of TV-including the news. They usually represent people as ‘heroes’ and ‘villains’. Propp’s character types remind us that though characters may seem very ‘real’, they must be understood as constructed characters. In films, characters are played by actors who are chosen to (through make up, costumes etc) resemble perceptions of their characters. Their roles are perceived by the audience very quickly into roles such as ‘hero’ or ‘villain’
Vogler ’s theory states that there are twelve stages of the hero’s journey. These are; -Ordinary world -Call to adventure -Refusal of the call -Meeting with mentor -Crossing the first threshold -Tests, allies and enemies -Approach to the inmost cave -Supreme ordeal -Reward -Road back -Resurrection -Return with the elixir Films linked to this theory Little Man Vogler’s theory can be applied to the opening scenes of ‘Little Man’. Vogler’s narrative theory must be applied to a whole film, however after viewing the opening minutes of Little Man, I can see that this theory best suited to it. The film starts off by introducing the world of the lead character. He is released from prison and called into adventure. He reluctantly agrees to the mission of stealing a prized diamond. Viewers are then introduced to the gang leader, who is the ‘mentor’ in Vogler’s theory.
Another theory is Levi-Strauss ’ theory. He notes that all narratives are based around the conflict between binary oppositions. The most common of these include Good vs. Evil, Boy vs. Girl, Civilised vs. Savaged and Man vs. Nature Films linked to this theory Terminator 2 Levi-Strauss’ theory fits in with this opening. We are introduced to the binary oppositions of good and evil. The film opens with children playing on a swing, which then turns slow motion. This indicates that their world is in danger. The scene then cuts to an area filled with human bones with the machines roaming that area. This shows that the machines are the villains in the binary opposition. Good vs. Evil is equal to Humans vs. Machines in this film. It could also be a war between past vs. Future.
The final theory is Barthes ’ theory. His findings show that all narratives have an Enigma code, which refers to any element of the story that is not fully explained. Therefore, this becomes a mystery to the audience. Films linked to this theory American Beauty Barthes’ theory can be applied to the opening 3 minutes of ‘American Beauty’. The film opens with a teenager who states that she wants her dad killed. This is part of the enigma code due to the fact that the audience immediately questions why she wants him killed. Another aspect which is not explained is who the girl is talking to. The scene then cuts to an overhead shot of the father’s bedroom, which only contains a bed and a set of tables on either side. He narrates ‘in less than a year, I’ll be dead’. As he doesn’t go into detail about how he dies, it becomes a mystery to the audience, hence it is an enigma code. The Road The opening of ‘The Road’ can be linked with the Enigma Code of Roland Barthes. The film opens with a flashback of the leading male looking out of the window whilst a disaster is occurring. This prompts viewers to question what is happening outside. It then cuts to the time where the film is set. The mise-en-scene of the shot is very empty, not much surrounds them. It seems as if they are living in a dystopian society. It is not clear as to how their surroundings came about to be in the state that it is. The audience might question how all this happened.
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