WHAT IS NARRATIVE?
Narrative is the storytelling of the connected events within a film which give it an
overall meaning. It is how the story unfolds and how the plot is revealed to the
WHAT IS A CLOSED NARRATIVE?
A closed narrative is used in film making where the story contains a beginning
middle and end. The story ends at the end of the film making it one overall story
that is not left to continue as an open narrative of something such as a soap
opera would. The audience see the story unravel and come to a conclusion.
WHY IS NARRATIVE IMPORTANT?
Without a narrative, a film has no meaning and no story to follow leaving nothing
for the audience become involved in. This means the film can become boring and
an audience won’t want to watch it. Without a narrative it is difficult for a film to
move on so can be slow. A good narrative is key in making a good film.
However, some film types are based on the lack of a narrative such as
surrealism. Surrealist films defy the need for a story but are normally very
confusing leading to many questions.
WHAT IS THE IDEA OF THE THREE ACTS?
The three act structure is what many film narratives are modelled off and judged on in
the modern era. This divides the story into three distinctive parts called the setup, the
confrontation and the resolution.
The first act normally establishes the characters, their relationships with each other
and the world in which they live. At the end of the first act is normally when the
protagonist and issue arise.
The second act is when the problem increases and the protagonist tries to resolve it
leaving to the situation worsening and them needing further skills or information to
The third act is where the narrative reaches its climax and the story becomes resolved
after the protagonist overcomes their problem.
WHAT ARE TODOROV’S THREE TERMS?
Todorov came up with a theory that most narratives included the same
conventions which were always followed. Today this film structure is very
recognisable and can be applied to most modern “mainstream” films.
The equilibrium: A happy start
The disruption of the equilibrium: The problem occurs
The restoration of the equilibrium: The problem is resolved
He also believed that the characters were transformed by the end of the film
when its circular structure took them back to how they had started. Although the
equilibrium at the end of the film differs to the beginning, they are back to a
similar situation as new people.
ACT ONE: (Equilibrium – Two characters who are about to become a couple)
We are introduced to the two main characters, Juno and Paulie, and their weird on/off
relationship. We learn how Juno is a strong independent minded female whereas Paulie is a
more shy, quiet character but are outsiders when faced with their fellow school mates. We are
made aware that the two are in an American high school together in a small town which is not
run down but not luxurious either. As the audience we see that the two are very keen on each
other but know they are unaware of this themselves. Junos actions then hint to pregnancy.
ACT TWO: Disruption (Juno finds out she is
pregnant and becomes distant from Paulie.
She doesn’t know what to do.)
Through the actions of Juno (her drinking a
lot to make her pee and buying many
pregnancy tests) we are aware that Juno
fears she may now be carrying Paulies child.
We already know of there on/off relationship
and we see how this begins to effect her as
she tells him they should stay distant from
each other even though it is clear the two
want to be together.
As a teenager, more problems are caused for
Juno who decides to get an abortion.
However, as she walks to the clinic she
decided she can’t do it and seeks another
As the independent female we have already
been introduced to she makes all the
decisions herself and looks into adoption.
However when this plan also begins to fail
when the adopting parents to be split
up, Juno faces her biggest decision and takes
a 3rd step to solve her problem.
ACT THREE: New Equilibrium (The
baby is adopted, Juno and Paulie
support each other and have a
Juno decides that despite the adopting
parents splitting up, she wants the
woman to still adopt her child. She
leaves a note on her doorstep and
allows her to adopt her baby once it is
After Juno has given birth, Paulie turns
up at the hospital to offer Juno his
support. We soon realise the pair are
back together and have accepted how
their baby will be adopted and they
will have their time to have a baby
when they’re older.
The final scenes show Vanessa (the
step mum) looking after Junos baby
happily while Juno and Paulie are sat
outside a house in the sun with each
other singing and then kiss. Everything
is back to normal for them and their
relationship is now a lot stronger.
WHO WAS PROPP?
Vladimir Propp is a media theorist who
analysed the basic plot of many Russian
folk tales to find and identify their
simplest narrative elements.
He did this by breaking narrative into
sections to define the sequences within
it. He then concluded that he characters
could also be summarised into 7 main
character types. He tested his theory on
100 tales and believed it worked for them
PROPPS CHARACTER ROLES:
1. The villain (struggles against the hero)
2. The donor (prepares the hero or gives the hero something that will help them)
3. The helper (helps the hero on their quest
4. The princess (Person the hero marries, sought for during narrative)
5. The false hero (seems good but turns out bad in the end)
6. The dispatcher (character that makes the lack known, sends hero off)
7. The hero or victim, reacts to the donor, weds to the princess
HERO/VICTIM:JUNOMACGUFF The hero (who is normally male but in
the case a female) faces a quest to
restore the narrative equilibrium.
They are the centre of the story and
the victim of the villain.
In Juno, she starts off as a normal
teenage girl but then finds out she is
pregnant and faces the task of
solving her problem and getting back
to the lifestyle which she wants.
The dispatcher starts the hero on
their way and normally aids the hero
into the task of restoring the
Junos parents tell her she must find
a solution and although they do not
help her find it they support her and
aid her when she gives birth and has
her child adopted to restore the
The villain opposes the hero and
creates a narrative disruption.
When Juno attempts to resolve her
pregnancy by getting an
abortion, Su-Chin is protesting
outside and persuades her not to
delaying the resolution in the
narrative and causing Juno to look
for another solution.
The donor helps the hero by
giving them an object or some
Juno tells Leah she is pregnant
and doesn’t want an abortion and
Leah recommends looking into
adoption which moves the
narrative further towards in
equilibrium as Juno begins to find
an adopting family for her soon
to be born child.
The helper aids the hero in
restoring the equilibrium.
Vanessa agrees to adopt
Junos baby and raise them in
a happy family home. Even
when Mark leaves her
Vanessa still adopts Junos
child leading to the resolution
and new equilibrium.
FALSE HERO: MARK LORING
The false hero seems to be good throughout the
film up until just before the final resolution where
he is discovered to be bad.
Juno believes her child is being adopted by a
couple who will remain together forever which is
important to her since her mother left her when
she was young. However last minute Mark leaves
Vanessa and Junos ideas for a perfect family for
her child are ruined.
The prize is the reward for the
hero/victim at the end of their
During the disruption Paulie
becomes distant to Juno who still
cares a lot about him. After she
gives birth and the baby is
adopted, Paulie comes to support
her and the two are reunited.