Narrative theory

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Narrative theory

  1. 1. Narrative Theory Year 13 Thursday 2nd February 2012 Lesson Objectives Can I remember all the narrative STRUCTURES? What is narrative? Who are the narrative theorists? Have I started Mini-Lesson for my theory?
  2. 2. Narrative structures• Name all the narrative structures• Give a one line definition of all the narrative structures• The group that get them all right first gets •5 points
  3. 3. Narrative structures• Structure 1: Open and closed ended• Structure 2: Interactive• Structure 3: Multi-strand• Structure 4: POV• Structure 5: Enigma
  4. 4. 3 Distinct narrative forms• Classic • Hollywood• Anti-Classic • World cinema• Avant-Garde • Experimental
  5. 5. On a basic level films follow the same narrativepattern…• EXPOSITION – Introduces the films settings and characters to the viewer.• DEVELOPMENT – The storyline is taken further and more characters are introduced.• COMPLICATION – A complicating event which will affect the lives of the main characters.• CLIMAX – Dramatic tension is at a high and we (the audience) uncover the mystery of the story or have our questions answered.• RESOLUTION – Re-establishes stability and restores a form of calm.
  6. 6. Children’s book• Using the book in front of you• Find the; • Exposition • Development • Complication • Climax • Resolution
  7. 7. The Theorists• What theorists did you find?3.Vladimir Propp4.Roland Barthes5.Tzvetan Todorov6.Claude Levi-Strauss7.Victor Shklovsky8.David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson9.Gill Branston and Roy Stafford
  8. 8. The Theorists• What theorists did you find?3.Vladimir Propp AND Roland Barthes4.Tzvetan Todorov5.Claude Levi-Strauss AND Victor Shklovsky6.David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson7.Gill Branston and Roy Stafford
  9. 9. Mini Lesson• In your groups you will be given a theorist• You will research the narrative theorist• Find a short film that • A: Adheres to the theory • B: Subverts the theory• You will do a 15minute mini lesson• You will need to organise a activity for the class to do• You will have 2 lessons to produce the lesson
  10. 10. What makes a good lesson?• A warm up• Information• Educational• Engaging activity• An wind down• 10-15mins each group
  11. 11. ProppVLADIMIR PROPP (A Russian critic who examined 100s of examples of folk tales to see if they shared. any structures. His book on this Morphology of the Folk Tale was first published in 1928) Propp looked at 100s of folk tales and identified 8 character roles and 31 narrative functions.The 8 character roles are 1. The villain(s) 2. The hero 3. The donor - who provides an object with some magic property. 4. The helper who aids the hero. 5. The princess (the sought for person) - reward for the hero and object of the villains schemes. 6. Her father - who rewards the hero. 7. The dispatcher - who sends the hero on his way. 8. The false hero
  12. 12. Theories of Narrative Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970) The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928Propp examined hundreds of fairy tales in the generic form ‘the folkwondertale’.He identified:•8 character roles (or ‘spheres of action’)•31 functions which move the story along -examples include the punishment of the villain(usually at the end of the story); the ban of anaction (eg. If Sleeping Beauty touches a spinningwheel, she will die)
  13. 13. Theories of Narrative Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970) The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928Propp’s 8 character roles or ‘spheres of action’•The villain•The hero - a seeker character motivated by an initial lack•The donor, who provides an object with some magic property•The helper, who aids the hero•The princess, a reward for the hero and object of the villain’s schemes•Her father, who validates the hero•The dispatcher, who sends the hero on his way•The false hero adapted from (Branston and Stafford, 1996)
  14. 14. Theories of Narrative Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970) The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928Propp’s theory is a form of structuralism, which is a view that all media isinevitably in the form of certain fixed structures.These structures are often culturally derived andform expectations in the mind of an audiencefrom within that same culture eg fairy talesalways have happy endings or the princessalways marries the handsome prince.
  15. 15. Theories of Narrative Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970) The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928Propp’s theory can be applied to generic structures in Western culture, suchas popular film genres.Thus genre structures form expectations in themind of an audience that certain rules apply tothe narrative. However, cultural change can forcestructures to change eg a hero can now be awoman
  16. 16. Theories of Narrative Vladimir PROPP (1895-1970) The Morphology of the Fairy Tale, 1928 Attempt to identify as many of Propp’s 8 ‘spheres of action’ from the films we have studied as you can -•The villain•The hero - a seeker character motivated by an initial lack•The donor, who provides an object with some magic property•The helper, who aids the hero•The princess, a reward for the hero and object of the villain’s schemes•Her father, who validates the hero•The dispatcher, who sends the hero on his way•The false hero
  17. 17. Theories of Narrative Tzvetan TODOROV Bulgarian structuralist 1960sTodorov developed the theory of disrupted equilibriumHe identified that stories follow a typical patternof:•Equilbrium•Disequilibrium•EquilibriumThis applies equally well to film texts
  18. 18. Theories of Narrative Tzvetan TODOROV Bulgarian structuralist 1960sEquilbrium - the ‘status quo’ where things are as theyshould beDisequilibrium - the status quo is disrupted by aneventEquilibrium - is restored at the end of the story by theactions of the hero
  19. 19. Theories of Narrative Tzvetan TODOROV Bulgarian structuralist 1960sWhat is the equilbrium at the beginning of acrime genre or horror genre film?What sort of event disrupts the equilibrium tocause disequilibrium in a crime or horror film?(Give two examples of actual events from filmswe have studied)How and when is equilibrium restored in a) a crime film? b) a horror film?
  20. 20. Theories of Narrative Tzvetan TODOROV Bulgarian structuralist 1960sThere can be several moments in the plot where resolutionof equilibrium takes place, for example when pieces of thedetective’s puzzle fall into place.An example from The Black Dahlia is whereBucky Bleikert fits the puzzling words of thepathologist to precise attributes of the ‘Stag-film’ set - the injury caused by the crown, theriver to wash away the blood.
  21. 21. Theories of Narrative Tzvetan TODOROV Bulgarian structuralist 1960sTodorov later developed this into a 5 stage pattern:1. a state of equilibrium at the outset.2. a disruption of the equilibrium by some action.3. a recognition that there has been a disruption.4. an attempt to repair the disruption.5. a reinstatement of the equilibrium.
  22. 22. Theories of Narrative Roland BARTHES French theoristBarthes believes that there are 5 action codes thatenable an audience to make sense of a narrative.•hermeneutic (narrative turning-points) we know where the story will go next•proairetic (basic narrative actions) eg detective interviews suspect or femme fatale seduces hero(see Propp’s 31 functions)•cultural (prior social knowledge) eg our attitudes to gender or racial stereotypes•semic (medium-related codes) intertextuality•symbolic (themes) iconography or a theme such as ‘image versus reality’(Curtis Hanson)
  23. 23. Theories of Narrative Claude LEVI-STRAUSS French structuralist, 1970s Claude Levi-Strauss is most noted for his theory of Binary Oppositions.In order to find those oppositions, Levi-Strauss was lessinterested insyntagmatic relations i.e.how events line up in thenarrative structure to develop the plot,than paradigmatic relations i.e. those events andfeatures that belong to the theme of the piece,especially within genre based texts.
  24. 24. Theories of Narrative Claude LEVI-STRAUSS French structuralist Levi-Strauss used the ‘Western’ film genre to develop his theory of Binary Oppositions.Homesteaders Native AmericansChristian PaganDomsetic SavageWeak StrongGarden WildernessInside society Outside society
  25. 25. Sci-Fi Good BadHumans Aliens Earth Space Past PresentNormal StrangeKnown Unknown
  26. 26. Theories of Narrative Claude LEVI-STRAUSS French structuralistWhat binary oppositions can you think of from the crime orhorror genres?
  27. 27. Theories of Narrative Claude LEVI-STRAUSS French structuralist Levi-Strauss used the ‘Western’ film genre to develop his theory of Binary Oppositions.detective villainprincess femme fatale?criminal ‘straight’weak strongsafe streets ‘mean streets’sane madpoor ? rich
  28. 28. Theories of Narrative Victor SHKLOVSKY Russian theorist 1920sShklovsky attempted to distinguish between the plot, which hedefined as the events we actually ‘see’ in the narrative; and thestory, which contains all the information or events affecting thecharacters both on and off screen.
  29. 29. Theories of Narrative Victor SHKLOVSKY Russian theorist 1920s He gave them typically difficult names:fabula = the story i.e. the whole world of the storybefore during and after what we see or hearsyuzhet = only the events that we see or hear withinthe field of vision
  30. 30. Theories of Narrative David BORDWELL and KristinTHOMPSON American Film Studies theorists 1990s In their book ‘Film Art (1997), Bordwell and Thompson give three different time zones for film narratives:story ‘the set of all the events in the narrative, both theones explicitly presented and those the viewer infers,compose the story’plot ‘the term plot is used to describe everything visiblyand audibly present in the film before us’.screen time ‘the time taken to broadcast the film’Diegesis is therefore the Greek for the ‘narrative world’ ofthe plot during the screen time.
  31. 31. Theories of Narrative Gill BRANSTON and Roy STAFFORD British Media writers 1990s Branston and Stafford happen to very usefully apply the relevance of fabula/syuzhet theory to the crime genre:We should feel at the end of a good detective story orthriller that we have been pleasurably puzzled, so that the‘solution’, our piecing together of the story in its properorder out of the evidence offered by the plot, will come asa pleasure. We should not feel that the plot has cheated;that parts of the story havesuddenly been revealed which we couldn’tpossibly have guessed at. The butlercannot, at the last minute, suddenly berevealed to have been a poisons expert.

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