Levi Strauss-binary oppositions
• Strauss, an early 20th centaury French anthropologist
proposed the way in which particular things within media
are perceived are through binary opposition, for example
good vs evil.
• Particularly used in film the theory denotes that a singular
piece or character within a film is not on its own perceived
in any particular way but that is the binary opposition
between two characters that define the connotations in
which the audience believes.
• A prime example of this theory within film is the
relationship between batman and the joker the goodness of
the actions in which the character of batman are perceived
are only because of the inherent evil of the things in which
joker is doing. The same can also be said in reverse as the
joker is bad because he is stopping batman from doing good.
Todorov- four act structure
• Todorov’s theory dictates that a story is split into 4 key
phases of plotline: Equilibrium, Disruption of
equilibrium, recognition of disruption and repair of
equilibrium. These four sections can be applied to many if
not all successful narratives and is especially prevalent in
• An example of this underlying narrative structure is
within star wars:
-Equilibrium- Luke is happy at home with no real danger
-Disruption- Luke tries to go on an adventure to return
C3PO and R2D2 to Princess Leia
-Realisation-Luke realises the corruption in the empire
the emperor destroys Alderan
-Reparation- Luke seeks to destroy the Death star which
returns the story back to equilibrium.
Propp- character roles
• Propp’s character roles suggests how
• The villain (struggles against the hero) Vader/ Emperor
• The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero some magical object) Obi wan
• The (magical) helper (helps the hero in the quest) Obi wan
• The princess (person the hero marries, often sought for during the narrative)
• The false hero (perceived as good character in beginning but emerges as evil)
• The dispatcher (character who makes the lack known and sends the hero off)
• The hero [AKA victim/seeker/paladin/winner, reacts to the donor, usually
marries the princess
• Barthes suggests that particular codes in which a narrative follows are the key to a
successful media product. Relevant in both texts and film he defines what should and
should not be done in creating a memorable or gripping media product
• His first point the hermeneutic code suggest that parts of a narrative must be hidden
to keep an air of mystery.
• Next the Enigma this dictates that the way in which tension within film and
television is methodical in its structuring to leave a viewer guessing.
• Thirdly his semantic code which states that an object or event in a story line is meant
to invoke different feelings for different people through the connotations linked wit
• Next the symbolic code saying that, similarly to Levi-Strauss, that opposites can be
used to create greater understanding of a character or object within a text to create
tension and drama.
• Lastly his code of referential, the assumption of pre-existing knowledge of a viewer
which is often critical to a plot.
• Campbell believes that all narratives fit within key stages or groups regardless of the
time, place or culture the story was influenced by.
• He argued that all the features within narrative can fit into specific archetypes. These
archetypes being not too dissimilar to Propps character roles.
• He also shows there can also be archetypes for situations in film for example;
• The Quest (Shrek)
• The Initiation (Star Wars: A New Hope/ The Empire Strikes back)
• The Fall (Star Wars: Return of the Jedi)
• Death and rebirth (The story of Christ)
• These four are examples of effective parts of narrative lines that are often crucial to
the plotline but also expand upon it by adding a secondary narrative.
• Lyotards outlook on traditional narrative subjects that it is somewhat at
fault in the way it defines the way a story is told.
• He makes the point that the way in which our ideas and thoughts are
moulded are defined by the ‘grand narrative’ and that understanding is
shaped through stories and that most of what we think is a lie
• This is often defined as being postmodernism and the idea of being a
postmodernism is to sway away from defined ideals as most are flawed. For
example a purely scientific outlook on the world is questionable as it
completely disregards the idea of same sex couples.
• However the same can also be said for purely religious outlooks. Despite
this modern narratives are still shaped almost primarily by these two ideals.