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Media Studies intro to Narrative [autosaved]


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An introductions to Narrative theory for Media Studies students. From Barthes action and enigma codes to Syd Field's formulaic 3 act structure, a easy to understand and visual reference for all media students taken from

Media Studies intro to Narrative [autosaved]

  1. 1. AS Intro to Narrative<br />Learning Objective:<br /><ul><li>Understand the difference between narrative and story
  2. 2. Identify how theorists categorise narratives</li></ul>Outcomes:<br /><ul><li>Complete narrative analysis for a chosen film from a genre of your choice using appropriate theory and terminology</li></ul>Taken from<br />
  3. 3. Definition<br />Narrative is the art of storytelling<br />Think of the story as the raw ingredients of a text - narrative is the methodology of how it is put together. The narrator or producer of the text cooks it in a certain way.<br />Narrative is also defined by the many codes, conventions, signs, symbols and icons within a text. <br />
  4. 4. Audience positioning affects how a text is read.<br />All media texts have a constructed narrative that can be deconstructed and understood by the audience in different ways.<br />Think representation and readings (Stuart Hall)<br />
  5. 5. What’s the story within this image?<br />
  6. 6. First Response:<br />Hopefully you identified the elements of war. <br />Depending on the reader’s cultural background, this image will have a different emotive effect.<br />The lack of colour (B & W) adds to the photojournalistic nature of the image. It also dates the image, since we are now accustomed to images of atrocities in Iraq & Afganistan, natural disasters – all in glorious HD and 3D.<br />The setting, body language, icons and uniform help create meaning.<br />Without text to anchor meaning, this image (story) is polysemic (open to interpretation). <br />
  7. 7. Real context<br />Taken just after South Vietnamese planes bombed her (screaming girl’s) village. She had only lived because she tore off her burning clothes. <br />AP Photographer Nick Út and NBC cameraman Le PhucDinh filmed her and her family emerging from the village, after the air strike, running for their lives. <br />This photo has become one of the most famous and iconicphotos of Vietnam and won Nick Út the Pulitzer prize in 1972<br />What if you’d read this first before seeing image?<br />
  8. 8. Meet the narrative theorists<br />
  9. 9.
  10. 10. Roland barthes<br /> Watch the above Horatio clips<br />Barthes (in summary):<br />Concluded that a text has many meanings, or is like ‘a galaxy of signifiers’ which can be interpreted in many ways. <br />The simile he used suggests that a text is like a ball of threads, waiting to be unravelled. You can either pull on one obvious thread (closed meaning) or several (open) Hence, a text can have many narrative threads/strands.<br />
  11. 11. The action code<br />Barthes defined several types of narrative codes, the most relevant being action and enigma codes. <br />The Action codes allow audiences to interpret and identify what is to come<br />But in terms of CSI:Miami - Horatio putting on his glasses signifies to the audience that the opening titles are about to begin (action code) <br />(oppositional reading) Horatio’s opening line to each episode is serious in the context of each episode, but can also be seen as unintentionally humorous without context and not understanding the narrative structure of the CSI franchise<br />
  12. 12. The enigma code<br />The enigma is created by the whole ‘who died and how was he/she murdered and by whom?’ This is the driving force of the narrative and is what creates tension and satisfies audiences demands<br />Combined with action codes, driving the plot forward, audiences know by convention that by the end of the 1 hour episode, Horatio will have his man<br />Other Barthes narrative codes:<br />Symbols and signs – identifiers and clues that help the audience piece together and understand the story.<br />Cultural reference – As UK Media students, CSI is very different from an episode of The Bill, but programmes like ‘Waking The Dead’ have similar narratives and stock characters. <br />
  13. 13. Enigma codes in film openings<br /><br />The above link is an excellent example of the Enigma code in use.<br />Notice how the use of camera and editing conveniently selects information (signs and symbols) from the setting and characters to get the audience asking questions.<br />
  14. 14. Claude Levi strauss – binary opposition<br /><br />Man Vs Machine is just one of the binary oppositions that Levi-Strauss identified <br />They offer powerful levels of meaning within a text and can summarise a theme of a film.<br />He highlights that several oppositions can be present in a media text.<br />
  15. 15. Other binary oppositions<br />Good vs Evil<br />Male vs Female<br />Humanity vs Technology<br />Nature vsIndustialisation<br />East vs West<br />Dark vs Light<br />Dirt vsClean<br />Jacques Derrida took Barthes’ and Levi-Strauss’ ideas a stage further by recognising that these ‘binary pairs’ were never equal in a text, ie, masculinity/femininity. One was always more valued than the other dependent on genre – often enforcing stereotypes and dominant cultural ideas.<br />
  16. 16. The Vladimir Propp tedious link<br /><br />Propp was a Russian theorist who studied fairytales and folklore.<br />He identified plot elements (31 generic functions in total)<br />Propp developed this into an 8 spheres of action narrative theory. <br />The most easily understood application of this model can be applied to the film Star wars.<br />
  17. 17. Simplified into eight sphere of action (or character roles)<br /><ul><li>1 – The villain
  18. 18. 2 – The hero (seeking something)
  19. 19. 3 – The donor (Provides an object with magic property)
  20. 20. 4 – The helper (aids hero)
  21. 21. 5 – The princess (reward for hero and object of villain scheme – although princess can be male.
  22. 22. 6 – Her Father – (who rewards hero)
  23. 23. 7 – The dispatcher – who sends the hero on his way
  24. 24. 8 – The False hero</li></ul> for a bit more detail<br />
  25. 25. Todorov’s Equilibrium<br />Bulgarian philosopher<br />Simple five step narrative<br />1 – A state of equilibrium (all is well)<br />2 – A disruption of that order by an event<br />3 – A recognition that disorder has occurred<br /> 4 – An attempt to repair the damage of disorder<br />5 – A return or restoration of new equilibrium<br />
  26. 26. This is a circular narrative<br />Which means a story can start at any part of the narrative.<br />The process does involve some transformation (think about character)<br />Some genres can have multiple disruptions,<br />
  27. 27. Time in narritive<br />Stories are rarely told in real time, instead they are broken down into scenes or sequences.<br />Sequences are then carefully edited and put together in a structure that makes sense to the viewer.<br />This process is called casuality, where one thing leads to another. This process forms a pattern known as the plot.<br />
  28. 28. Syd field – 3 act plot structure<br />SydField is an American Screenwriter who believes a typical Hollywood film can be separated into three separate dramatic sections or acts: the setup, the confrontation and resolution. <br />To move the action on from one act to another, key plot points occur which turn around the lives of the main characters The first act- setup<br />In many ways, the most important. Field claims that within the first ten minutes, the audience will decide whether they like the film and will normally be unwilling to change their minds later. It is therefore vital for the film-maker to give the audience a sense of what the film is going to be about, who the main character is and why they should care about him/her. Also, what they can expect in terms of style. <br />
  29. 29. The second act –Confrontation<br />In this longest act of the film we see the main character in a number of extreme problem situations where they confront their enemies, normally quite helplessly. Often there will be a mid-point where they begin to turn things around and win, but there is still a long way to go and at plot point two they will realise that the way they have been going about things is not working <br />Act three- resolution<br />The hero finally takes control in the struggles with their problems (often by going to confront the enemy on their own home territory) and will achieve a final, decisive victory.<br />This is said to breed the formulaic Hollywood movie.<br />
  30. 30. Other theorists<br />Joseph Campbell<br />Worth researching in terms of Narrative, philosophy, religion & myth<br />He studied historical and cultural fiction works from across the World.<br />George Lucas worshipped the man and helped mentor him with Star Wars. Hard to find videos of him speaking because of copyright.<br />
  31. 31. Other factors to consider<br />Identifying narrator – first or third person, POVs change but narrator will always reveal events, mediate events, evaluate events.<br />Narrator positions the audience in to particular relationships with character<br /> Time – use of flashbacks and dream sequences common, real time interludes<br />Location – Physical or geographical time zone.<br />
  32. 32. Links/sources<br /><br /><br /><br />