-to know what narrative is
-to be able to define it
-to be able to identify narrative in a film
-to be able to apply existing knowledge of stories
(from books) and their narrative structure and
apply this in relation to film narrative
-to be able to apply knowledge and definitions of
narrative to an existing film; and explain the
narrative structure by using key terms by creating
a PowerPoint with annotated screen grabs as
the telling of a story
all of the above
A) the telling of a story
-the way the story is told
-message that tells the particulars of an act or occurrence or course of
-a chain of events in a cause-effect relationship occurring in time
Ex. Girl is lonely, goes out for coffee, gets lost, needs help, asks a man
for directions, they fancy each other, he asks her out, they go on
date, they fall in love, get married, the end. (girl in love (cause)
causes things to happen (effects)
Explicit = clear, obvious, plain, open, unambiguous
An explicit narrative is a narrative that is very clear
and obvious, likely to be linear.
Implicit = unclear, ambiguous, hidden, inherent,
An explicit narrative is a narrative that is perhaps
confusing or ambiguous on purpose. It might be to
confuse the audience, create enigma or suspense.
Story, plot, event
all events referenced both explicitly (clearly/obviously) in
a narrative and understood and summarized
The events directly incorporated into the action of the
text and the order in which they are presented
something that happens in story to character, something
that impacts them, (usually they have very little
Ex. Character getting hit by a car
Fairy Tales – common narrative
Think of how you were told stories when you were little
Put this story in the „correct order‟ in terms of your understanding and familiarity from your
childhood and the media
A massive heroic battle occurs between villain and prince
Prince wins and prince accepts girl for who she is and they are in love
Girl is born to lovely parents
And they lived happily ever after
Prince and girl get married and she is now princess
Girl is living her daily life as a poor girl, but she is happy, giving, beautiful and one with nature
She suffers an unfair loss, (maybe by villain) (audience feel sympathy)
They separate and because they are star cross‟d lovers she runs off, but he is determined to
Once upon a time….
Girl‟s parents die in a tragedy
A prince discovers her and falls in love with her
Starter - The correct order
(I) Once upon a time…
(C) Girl is born to lovely parents
(J) Girl‟s parents die in a tragedy
(F) Girl is living her daily life as a poor girl, but she is happy, giving,
beautiful and one with nature
(G) She suffers an unfair loss, (maybe by villain) (audience feel
(K) A prince discovers her and falls in love with her
(H) They separate and because they are star cross‟d lovers she runs off,
but he is determined to get her
(A) A massive heroic battle occurs between villain and prince
(B) Prince wins and prince accepts girl for who she is and they are in
(E) Prince and girl get married and she is now princess
(D) And they lived happily ever after.
Intro to narrative
Our experiences of film and fictional TV lead us to form expectations based on
the type of text that we are watching, which in turn enable us to make
sense of what we watch and „read‟ from the text. We form expectations
based on GENRE, CHARACTER, STYLE, and FORMAT, and even the
INSTITUTION that has produced the text.
Our expectations regarding narrative relate to one of the most basic human
activities: storytelling, the casual relationship between one event and
another. Just as we are able to „report‟ on our own lives, we also become
skilled/familiar at a very early age at engaging with the plot of a TV
programme or film. Most fictional narratives also fulfill another basic
psychological need for a resolution to any event, although the journey
toward this resolution and the time taken to reach it differ between texts,
(example a drama film and a comedy sit-com are different).
We watch so much TV/film that we might get bored with the certainty of this
cause/effect structure, but we enjoy anticipating the sequence of events
and the potential resolution, and there are of course, more challenging texts
which both confuse and/or amaze our expectations.
Where else is narrative?
Think of Shakespeare, how is play divided?
Can you think of any other narrative styles?
Narrative theory (intro)
Narrative theory involves studying the conventions and
structures of stories represented in the media. Films and
fictional TV shows are comprehensible (understandable,
logical, clear) and therefore enjoyable because they tell
fictional stories which are organized in ways that reflect the
patterns and structures of our „real‟ lives.
This pattern of events in a film reflects the chronology (order) of
real life, but more importantly, the causality (cause – why
David Bordwell says “Action triggers reaction: each step has an
effect which in turn becomes a new cause.” It is this
motivational relationship between events that creates
narrative. We become involved with the chain of events and
start to anticipate their progress and possible conclusion.
Most mainstream films will tend to have plots which follow the
chronological chain of story events.
Example: Sleeping Beauty (starts with birth, growing up, meeting and
process of falling in love)
However, many examples of films do not follow this format.
Example: Momento (works backwards in time revealing past events to
give clues/answers of his initial actions
This text is a challenge to modern audiences who are still
fundamentally expecting linearity. (linear = like a line, obvious
order: beginning to end)
However, it is a useful example of how narrative structures can reflect
the mood, and in this case, confusion of a story. (just like how the
main character feels) If this film was told chronologically, this
narrative would have far less impact and just be another typical
-narrative where time is presented chronologically
-narrative where time is not presented chronogically
in order to communicate desired effects
(Example: film starting with a flashback) and then
going forward in time to when was thinking about
Whenever we receive a media text, our response
to that text are framed by the genre of the text.
We expect certain things of the text, depending on
the genre. If we are receiving an action film, what
do you expect?
Link to Stam‟s theory
Think of Grant‟s theory: “…allows audiences to identify
them specifically by their familiar and what become
The film industry relies on audience‟s understanding and
familiarity of GENRE and their familiar codes and
MARKETING: relies on audience familiarity (horror film
posters and trailers (they know we recognize the iconography
and connotations of them)
Narrative is a one of the familiar codes and conventions. You
already have expectations of how a story is going to be told
Action and events
An action is something a character does to
themselves, an object or another character.
An event is something that happens to the
character. (Example being hit by car (unless
another character intentionally hit another
character on purpose then it is action)
A narrative is usually a serious of events and
actions and the audience‟s expectations at any
stage are often related to the pattern of events
and actions taking place.
What are common narrative
structures for most films?
Discuss with partner/group for 2 mins ….
Beginning = equilibrium (normalcy/balanced)
Middle = disequilibrium (conflict)
End = new equilibrium (resolution – „new
Common narrative structure
ACT 1 = (beginning) …….(set up)
introduction to story/characters, everything is „ok‟ (audience feel
ok), end of 1 = start to „crisis‟
ACT 2 = (middle) ……….(conflict)
height of crisis (audience feel worried) working towards
resolving the crisis
ACT 3 = (end) ……..(resolution)
happy resolution and everything is „ok‟ (audience feel happy)
*Think of how relates to Grants theory = must be familiar and recognizable codes and
*Think of how this relates to Chomsky (to diverge audience from real problems/hardhitting texts)