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Film narrative theory


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Film narrative theory

  1. 1. What is narrative?
  2. 2. Narrative Introduction Discuss the narrative of the opening of ‘The Business’
  3. 3. Narrative, at its most simplistic, can be defined as ‘the way in which a story is told’. There are differing narrative structures...
  4. 4. Film Narrative There are certain guidelines for film- makers and expectations for audiences regarding the narrative of a film, predominantly that the story progresses logically (chronologically) through events as they happen. Most Hollywood films follow this linear narrative format, as it is the easiest to follow.
  5. 5. Film Narrative However, some films will break these rules and play around with narrative aspects (often culminating in a non- linear narrative).
  6. 6. Levi-Strauss and Binary Oppositions  Claude Levi-Strauss focused on how meaning is created within a film’s narrative.  He argued that Binary Oppositions create meaning and further the narrative by these oppositions clashing with one another. These oppositions take many different forms and are very genre dependent.
  7. 7. Levi-Strauss and Binary Oppositions  Examples include: Man vs. Woman Human vs. Alien Young vs. Old Hero vs. Villain West vs. East Science vs. Nature
  8. 8. Vladimir Propp: seven spheres of action: Propp’s study of Russian folk tales has been applied to film to suggest that while narratives may appear very different, there is a shared character structural features. Hero: Individual(s) who's quest is to restore the equilibrium. Villain: Individual(s) who's task is to disrupt the equilibrium. Donor: Individual(s) who gives the hero(s) something, advice, information or an object. Helper: Individual(s) who aids the hero(s) with their set task. Princess (Prince): Individual(s) which need help, protecting and saving. Dispatcher: Individual(s) who send the hero(s) on their quest. False Hero: Individual(s) who set out to undermine the hero's quest by pretending to aid them. Often unmasked at the end of the film.
  9. 9. Tzvetan Todorov As a rule the conventional narrative has five stages, though this can be rudimentary broken down to three stages: 1. Beginning (State of equilibrium) 3. Middle (State of Disequilibrium)) 5. End (State of New equilibrium) Equilibrium = a state of balance, normality in which the characters find themselves at the beginning. 2. Disruption 4. Resolution
  10. 10. Tzvetan Todorov conventional narrative structure Stage 1 A state of equilibrium is defined. Stage 2 Disruption to the equilibrium by some action or crisis. Stage3 The Character(s) recognition that there has been a disruption, setting goals to resolve problem. Stage4 The Character(s) attempt to repair the disruption, obstacles need to be overcome to restore order. Stage5 Reinstatement to the equilibrium. Situation is resolved, a conclusion is announced.
  11. 11. Barthes & Narrative Codes Barthes’ interest in narrative derived from the concept of the use of visual codes. Enigma codes are images/sequences that control how much we know in the story, engaging and holding audience interest. They present puzzles which demand to be solved. Action codes are those images/sequences that work as a form of visual shorthand making complex ideas immediately apparent and carrying the story forward.
  12. 12. Other Useful Terms Restricted/Unrestricted Narration- how much information do you release to the audience? Ellipsis- the compression of time within a film Causality- the ‘because’ of the story
  13. 13. Back to ‘The Business’ Once again, be prepared to discuss the opening of ‘The Business’ using some of the theory used.