Narrative theory


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Narrative theory

  1. 1. L/O: To understand the narrative theories of Todorov, Strauss, Barthes, Propp, Cameron -to be able to apply theory to films in order to identify and explain the theories
  2. 2.  Task: To make a powerpoint which explains the theories and gives evidence from films to explain them Title Page:  Part A  Part B  Part C  Part D  Part E  Part F Assignment 8: Narrative theory Todorov (1&2) Levi-Strauss Barthes Propp Other Terms Cameron – Modular Narrative
  3. 3.  Suggested there are 5stages of narrative: (with 3 major parts) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.  EQUILIBRIUM (or normality) DISEQUILIBRIUM (conflict/disruption of equilibrium by action or event Recognition of DISEQUILIBRIUM (disruption/conflict) Attempt to repair disequilibrium NEW EQUILIBRIUM (new normality) Simply, it is the equivalent to the classic structure of beginning, middle, end.
  4. 4.     This disruption of the initial equilibrium motivates the cause/effect chain of events that makes the plot of the film. Stages 2, 3, 4 may be repeated many times over before we reach the final stage of new equilibrium (end). Hence, the 'edge of our seats' experience (anticipation) is maintained by the lack of resolution. The full narrative structure establishes the audience's pleasure and satisfaction that are achieved by the resolution: 'happy ending'. Often, the new equilibrium involves a new state of being, where not only has order been RESTORED, but, some kind of learning process or improvement to life has taken place. In the case of franchise films (or trilogies), each film leaves the audience with some 'unfinished' aspect of the plot in order to prepare them for the sequel. Different genres will present this 5 stage process differently, occupying different typical disruptions and resolutions.
  5. 5. THINK OF DIFFERENT DISRUPTIONS/CONFLICTS AND RESOLUTIONS FOR DIFFERENT GENRES: *When complete, take photo using iPad and put on powerpoint Complete this sheet
  6. 6.   To identify and explain Todorov‟s theory in relation to a film. Film in your subgenre  Could be a 5 point timeline…..
  7. 7.     Believed that our world is described in BINARY OPPOSITES. When we look at themes within stories and real life we realise they consist differences, contradictions and conflict or OPPOSITES. ◦ night/day ◦ good/bad ◦ dark/light ◦ male/female We subconsciously recognize the essential conflict in relation to narrative which familiarity in stories and films. Strauss believes these oppositions are fundamental to our ability to make meanings of our lives. For example, we only understand good when it is opposed to evil. He believed opposition offered structure to texts including stories, plays, books and films. In other media: ◦ Washing powder adverts: before/after contrast and effect to convince you to buy the product ◦ News reports: good/bad to present story simply
  8. 8. One of the most obvious opposites in film is the opposition of hero/villain HERO VILLAIN Good Evil Native Outside Love Hate Handsome Ugly
  9. 9. SETTLERS NATIVE AMERICANS Civilised Savage Christian Pagan Ordered society Outside society Town Wilderness Handsome Scarred
  10. 10. GOOD EVIL Day Night Light Dark Christian Supernatural Innocence Violation
  11. 11.     There is a key problem with his theory (which is clear in above examples) Oppositions inevitably lead to a status of hierarchy, one side has to 'win' the conflict, which is tied to the structure of the narrative. Of course, the audience are expected to agree and favour the winning 'side'. This can create a dangerous 'norm' (example ideology of white, handsome, big muscles, strong, brave, male hero
  12. 12.  Think of opposites in a variety of genres and give examples from films YOUR GENRE: _______________ Film “_____” Opposite 1 Opposite 2 Explanation Explain how they are opposites PIC HERE Briefly explain this character PIC HERE Briefly explain this character Extension: How does do the binary opposites provide narrative structure? Extension: Evaluate the use of binary opposites.
  13. 13.   Set: Thur Feb 13 Due: Fri Feb 14  Create Powerpoint with title Assignment 15: Narrative Theory Part A: Todorov Task 1 & 2 Part B: Strauss  Part C/D = to complete later this week.  
  14. 14.   Similar to Todorov's theory, the audiences experience of the narrative involves ANTICIPATION and EXPECTATION of a resolution to disruption/conflict; Barthes theory of codes encourage the audience to SEEK ANSWERS & CLUES to make them anticipate outcomes. Identified these by „codes‟: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Enigma Code Action Code Semantic Code Symbolic Code Cultural Code
  15. 15.       Narratives set up as puzzles to be solved (ex content of letter, what is in a box/briefcase, why is killer killing a victim) It is basically portraying a mystery and raising questions as way to intrigue/draw in the audience Can be applied to any text, a story, a poster, film etc. These enigmas delay the ending/resolution to maintain audience interest and anticipation Answer to enigmas contribute to our enjoyment of resolution (new equilibrium) (in mainstream films) Sometimes enigmas left unresolved (often in less mainstream films)
  16. 16.   Usually thriller, mystery based in which the question is “Who is the killer” and/or “Why are they killing people” Example: “Saw” Who is responsible? Why are they there?
  17. 17.  Codes of behaviour and actions that lead audience us to expect certain consequences (based on other stories/films and their conventions)
  18. 18. THRILLER/MYSTERY Action: A) Killer/villain walks into room with gun/weapon B) Girl hiding from killer/villain Assumption: A) Victim(s) will get shot/hurt B) Girl will get found/taken SLASHER/HORROR Action: A) Going into dark alley or dark stairwell/room alone B) Being promiscuous or flirty/suggestive C) Virgin, good hearted female Assumption: A) Will get killed B) Will get killed C) Will live ROMANCE Action: Couple realise their actions and acknowledge their mistakes to each other Assumption: They will kiss and make up
  19. 19.    Connotative (connotation) meanings of characters, objects, locations We learn from experience about these denotations & connotations Iconographic features work in same way
  20. 20. Pretty Woman (Romance/Drama) American Beauty (Drama) Carrie (Thriller/horror) Red dress = sexuality and love/passion Roses = sexuality/sexual desire Blood = Murder and violence
  21. 21. Hero is handsome, manly, good hearted Villain is disfigured, not as strong/, evil and selfish
  22. 22.   Iconographic features have clear connotations and meanings to audience Spaceships & Aliens = sci-fi
  23. 23.   Symbolic features often signify oppositions and antitheses (savage/civilized, light/dark) Ex. in Thelma & Louise = male repressive world and female escape (this is represented/expressed symbolically through interiors/actions of male/female.....male = dark, trapped, repressive, abusive......female = light, free, airy, justice etc
  24. 24. Feeling positive and free after leaving repressive marriages, are together and Thelma saves Louise (free in sunshine) Drive away in open space, drive forward (running away), don‟t look back In convertible = open space (freedom) Even after committed crime, have to regrets and want to keep running, keep committing crimes Even when about to get caught, drive off edge (to not be constricted in jail)
  25. 25. Louise‟s husband is unsuccessful, abusive and controlling Thelma‟s husband has a good heart but isn‟t a man of achievement or success The young man Louise sleeps with seems charming, but is a criminal and a thief who steals their money The man Louise meets in a bar is drunk, creepy, abusive and rapes her after she refuses sex The truck driver who drives beside them when they are driving is a lonesome and desperate man, is restricted to be in a truck all day and night
  26. 26.  Outside of text and knowledge we commonly share to bring understanding of the meaning in the text. Often references to things in popular culture and historical events. ◦ Ex In modern adaption of 'Romeo & Juliet' there are a wide range of modern interpretations we know as modern (were not in original story): guns, corporations, locations such as petrol stations, setting in multicultural environment, drag queens, drugs, cars, lifts, etc
  27. 27.   We use our these cultural references to ENHANCE our reading and understanding of the text Sometimes films are set and revolve around a particular (real) historical event or era....our understanding of these time periods or events again enhances our understanding. ◦ Example: Full Monty = set in a time which is dealing with a financial recession due to decline in traditional British industries (Think of films that are set around the events of 9/11 or other wars.
  28. 28.  Explain each code with examples from films (try to do in your subgenre) ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ Enigma Code Action Code Semantic Code Symbolic Code Cultural Code
  29. 29.     Studied folklore, fairytales and legends in many countries and noticed many similarities in them; similar character types and same problems. He formed 2 theories, the first is about 7 distinctive character types called 'Spheres of Action'. Because they are based on historic fairy tales and folklore, this theory might seem very recognizable and rather simplistic. Just remember these stories are often children's tales which need to be simplistic.
  30. 30.        1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hero Villain Dispatcher Donor Helper Heroine False Hero
  31. 31.   On quest/search Traditionally male (not always) protagonist, role is to restore disequilibrium (usually by defeating the villain for winning love of heroine (princess)
  32. 32.    Starts hero on it's way (usually to restore the disequilibrium) Often father of heroine He (or she) sends hero off so he can prove his worth (often before winning love of heroine)
  33. 33.    Opposes the hero (antihesis) Cause of disruption Often threat to safety of heroine
  34. 34.   Helps hero by giving him 'magic' tool/gift to help him on journey The tool/gift may be advice, a skill or an object such as weapon
  35. 35.   Assists/helps hero in restoring normality/equilibrium Like a 'sidekick' (with for whole or part of journey...can meet on way)
  36. 36.   Initially on side of hero but then turns against or deceives him/her Tempts hero away from quest N/A
  37. 37.    Brother of King Mufasa, uncle to Simba Seems caring of Simba Tempts him but really sets him up to be killed (so he can be King)
  38. 38.     Often referred to as 'Princess' in traditional narratives Usually female but not always More passive and vulnerable character; threatened by the villain and needing rescuing by the hero Often in love (or ends up with hero)
  39. 39.  Of course these character roles are manipulated and changed in films and texts (or some not there at all) and others will use more updated/modern versions for example different representation/actions of heroine to suit more modern contexts which reflect the changing role of women in society. Examples of Female Protagonists in Action genre:  Thelma & Louise (hero and heroines)   Alien franchise + Kill Bill (power is weakened by maternal instincts) While these female characters are vulnerable, they at least have become more dominant in terms of their role and importance to the plot rather than simply being a prize to a male hero. They have their own weapons, fight scenes, so therefore the Spheres of Action (character roles) have become more blurred.
  40. 40.   In line with his Spheres of Action theory, Propp also identified 31 functions which motivate the story and structure of the narrative. Described as actions but depends on linearity of the narrative, not applied to all films or in that order
  41. 41.  Identify the 7 types of characters in a film  Some films you could look at: ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ ◦ 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. Hero Villain Dispatcher Donor Helper Heroine False Hero Most Disney/Pixar animated films Matrix Mission Impossible Avatar
  42. 42.    Diegesis Narrative Range Narrative Depth
  43. 43.  The internal world created by the story that the characters themselves experience and encounter. (The world the characters live in (in TV/FILM).
  44. 44. Unrestricted narration  A narrative which has no limits to the information that is presented (gives as much info as possible, not hiding any pieces of information to audience (unrestricted) i.e. a news bulletin. Restricted narration  Only offers minimal information regarding the narrative (offering little amount of narrative which hides some information from audience (perhaps to create enigma/mystery) i.e. thrillers
  45. 45. Objective character identification  The viewer is given unique access to a character‟s point of view such as seeing things from the character‟s mind, dreams, fantasies or memories. Subjective character identification  The viewer is given unique access to what a range of characters can see and do. (Can see multiple)
  46. 46.    Explain the terms in relation to films of your choice (can be all different) DIEGESIS NARRATIVE RANGE ◦ Unrestricted narration ◦ Restricted narration  NARRATIVE DEPTH ◦ Objective Character Identification ◦ Subjective Character Identification
  47. 47. Modular Narratives Forking Path Episodic Anachronic Split Screen
  48. 48.  “Express a sense of time which can be detachable and may have manipulation” (where time is not linear)
  49. 49.   Juxtapose alternative versions of a story, showing the possible outcomes that might result from small changes in a single event or group of events. The forking-path narrative introduces a number of plotlines that usually contradict one another. Examples include Groundhog Day, Sliding Doors
  50. 50.  Organised as an abstract series or narrative anthology (collection of multiple stories). ◦ Abstract series is characterized by the operation of a non-narrative formal system which appears to dictate the organization of narrative elements such as a sequence of numbers or the alphabet. ◦ Anthology consists of a series of shorter tales which are apparently disconnected but share a random similarity, such as all „episodes‟ being survivors of a shipwreck.
  51. 51.  Modular narratives involve the use of flashbacks and/or flash-forwards, with no clear dominance between any of the narrative threads. These narratives also often repeat scenes directly or via a different perspective. Examples include:  Pulp Fiction & Memento & 4-3-2-1.
  52. 52.    Different from the other types of modular narrative discussed here, because their modularity is articulated along spatial (space) rather than chronological or time-based lines. These films divide the screen into two or more frames, juxtaposing events within the same visual field (all in 1 screen) Examples include Timecode, Snake Eyes, Kill Bill, 127 Hours, Snake Eyes:
  53. 53.      Explain the narrative theories in relation to a film of your choice (can do different genres) 1 2 3 4
  54. 54. Add: (to existing powerpoint)  Barthes  Propp  Other Terms  Cameron  Due Tues (1st lesson after ½ term)