Media Concepts; Narrative Narrative – The way a story or tale is told so that the elements are structured and organised in such a way that it makes sense to the audience. It has also been described as how events are unified in time and space. Three key theorists studied the way music videos and other media stories were constructed and each came up with one explanation or model to help the audience understand the story that was being told.
Todorov Narrative will be structured into five different stages; -> Equilibrium, -> Disequilibrium, -> Recognition, -> Reparation, -> New Equilibrium. For example; Jack and the Beanstalk story, -> Jack and his mother are living happily (Equilibrium) -> They are forced to sell their family cow which Jack sells for five magic beans (Disequilibrium) -> Jack knows that he has done wrong but decides to see what is up at the top of the giant beanstalk (Recognition) -> Jack takes the gold coins from the ogre and manages to defeat him by cutting down the beanstalk (Reparation) -> Jack and his mother are now rich and live happily ever after (New Equilibrium).
Propp Narrative is motivated by a variety of character functions; there will be a hero who is sent on a quest by the sender. The hero has to overcome the villain usually with the aid of a helper and in doing so gains a reward, often a princess. If the audience can spot these narrative character functions then they can predict what will happen in the story. For example; Shrek film. Shrek (Hero) is sent on a quest by the King (Sender) to overcome the dragon (villain) with the aid of Donkey (Helper) and gains the Princess (Reward)
Levi Strauss Narrative is motivated by a clear struggle between Binary Opposities, one side which will be represented as the 'right' side which the audience should identify with and support. For example; Any superhero films like Batman, Spiderman etc. Good guys (Heroes) are always shown in a favorable light e.g. low camera angles, close ups and longer shots of them in order to make the audience identify with them and support them.
Examples of Music Video Narratives; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=koJlIGDImiU&ob=av2e Enrique Iglesias – Hero This video is a clear example of the Todorov narrative . Equilibrium – Iglesias and Jennifer Love Hewitt are happily together. Disequilibrium – Their car breaks down and they are attacked by a group of men. Recognition – Iglesias knows that the gang will not let them go. Reparation – He decides to fight against them New Equilibrium – Iglesias dies but he knows that Jennifer Love Hewitt is safe from harm .
Equilibrium Disequilibrium Recognition Reparation New Equilibrium
These stages in Todorv’s narrative format are clearly signalled through the media language. During the first stage of equilibrium the camera uses close ups of both Iglesias and of Jennifer. The settings are open, sunny and peaceful looking. This connotes that everything is ok between the two of them and undisturbed. However this quickly changes during the disequilibrium stage. Suddenly the two of them seem trapped and especially Iglesias when he is shot in a frame within a frame. The lighting is darker and more foreboding whilst the two heroes are also shot from further away and the camera chooses to frame the lower half of their bodies rather than their faces connoting that something bad will happen to them as it draws the audience to feel less emotionally connected with them. The shots of the lower half of their bodies could also connote sexuality and masculinity. The necklace that is frequently shown a close up of (which symbolises its importance) is also a dangling cause. Suddenly the villains are shown. They are shot in narrow focus and with MLS. This allows the audience to feel less empathy for them whilst the fact that they are wearing black could also connote their evilness. The recognition stage is shown with the return to close ups of both the heroes and villains which allows the audience to see the full extent of the conversation and Iglesias discovery. The change from recognition to reparation is also seen in the media language. In this stage the camera zooms in to Iglesias’ face and of Jennifer’s reaction. It also zooms out from the close ups of the villains face which connotes their evilness and with the heroes wearing white connotes their purity and innocence. Finally the new equilibrium is signified by the dark surroundings and rain which symbolises that a new equilibrium has not been reached as the hero dies. Also we are shown more close ups of Jennifer’s face and of her distress a further symbol of the loss of the new equilibrium.
Enrique Iglesias ' video Hero could also be used as an example of Propp's and Levi Strauss' narrative. Enrique Iglesias (Hero) is sent on a quest to overcome the evil gang of thugs (Villain) with the aid of Jennifer Love Hewitt (Helper) for the gift of Jennifer (Reward) Villain Hero Helper/Reward
Enrique Iglesias is clearly shown as the Hero in this music video. He is usually shot from either straight ahead or slightly below, giving the audience something to identify with as the media language constructs the image of Iglesias being one of them and a person who they can relate to. He is also shot using close ups of his face or body. This allows the audience to gain a more personal connection with him so that they in turn will feel what he is feeling and (due to many of the shots being taken from his point of view- restricted narration) see what he sees. This therefore allows the audience to empathy with him as a person and treat him almost like one of their own. The audience will furthermore care what happens to him. When the camera is on Iglesias he is usually shot in the centre of the frame. This further demonstrates his importance to the narrative and that the audience should concentrate more on him, feeling more empathy. The mise en scene also suggests this hero like status. There is usually bright light on or around him connoting an angelic and innocence whilst this purity would also draw in the audience's eye and in turn make them empathise with him. On the other hand the gang is also clearly shown to be the villains in this music video. They are usually shot from slightly below, which whilst connotes dominance also make them less appealing to the audience as the audience would feel that the gang would believe that they were above the audience. Also there are no close ups of the gang and during any shot there is always at this two or three of them in the frame at any one time, connoting their unimportance to the video and that the audience should feel no connection with them. When the gang is shot they are never straight ahead, usually in a pyramid formation with the leader at the front. Also they are all dressed in the same or similar clothes. This suggests that none of the men stand out and are largely unimportant to the narrative. Due to this the audience won't be able to identify with any individual and be able to identify with them. The darkness of their clothes my also suggest evilness as well. Jennifer Love Hewitt is wearing white, connoting her purity and innocence. Something that also tells the audience that she is the hero's reward as usually the rewards for Heroes are innocent and pure. This is also reflected by the amount of light on or around her giving her an angelic quality and allowing the audience to empathise with her. Like the Hero she is also placed near the centre of the frame, shot from straight ahead and has frequent close ups. This reflects her importance to the narrative and that the audience should empathise with her.